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Reviewing the past week's higher education news, Rachel Hewitt, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Higher Education Policy Institute, takes issue with claims that UK higher education is "broken" and sees encouraging signs that it is addressing issues over diversity.
Professor Malcolm Todd, Deputy Vice-Chancellor/Provost (academic and student experience) at the University of Derby, comments on what he sees as the most significant higher education news and opinions making headlines in the first week of 2020.
Universities in Scotland are making “good progress” towards widening access targets set by the Scottish government, according to a new report.
There was a record increase in the number of entrants into higher education who came from the 20 per cent most deprived areas in Scotland last year, with 12 institutions already exceeding their 2021 target to have at least 10 per cent of full-time degree intakes from these areas, says the annual Scottish Funding Councils report on widening access.
The number of new students in this category rose by 17 per cent to 4,650 learners, representing 15.6 per cent of Scottish domiciled full-time degree entrants. The overall target set by the Commission on Widening Access is for 20 per cent of entrants to come from the 20 per cent most deprived areas.
The retention rate for Scottish domiciled full-time first degree entrants from deprived areas completing year 1 and remaining in higher education rose from 87.4 per cent to 89.4 per cent, while 87.2 per cent of entrants with care-experienced backgrounds remained in higher education, compared with 87 per cent the previous year.
Commenting on the findings of the report, SFC chief executive, Karen Watt said: "This report shows evidence of good progress. This is happening because universities and colleges are working hard to ensure everyone has a fair chance of a place on a higher education course. It is especially encouraging to see evidence that universities are improving their support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds so that the retention rate for these students is getting closer to the norm. Achieving greater diversity and fair access is a collective challenge and there is a lot of work still to do. However, this report shows Scotland is leading the way in this important area."
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