Widening participation or reinforcing privilege in Scottish higher education?

Sherry, Alan (2016) Widening participation or reinforcing privilege in Scottish higher education? Fraser of Allander Economic Commentary, 39 (3). pp. 126-130. ISSN 2046-5378

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    Abstract

    A key priority of successive Scottish and UK governments has been to increase participation in higher education based on the premise that higher level qualifications lead to economic growth which will benefit society and lead to individuals obtaining well-paid sustainable employment. The opportunity of the ‘graduate’ premium in terms of salary has been seen by successive governments as a means of addressing poverty particularly in communities which continue to experience the deprivation associated with post-industrialisation. This led to a commitment by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1999 to enable 50% of young people to progress to degree level education. It was anticipated that this expansion of volume would automatically increase participation from under-represented groups. However this policy ambition has not yet resulted in the major shift in participation rates in higher education by residents of the most deprived data-zones anticipated by government nor the bodies with responsibility for delivering this policy.