PROGRESS MADE ON WIDENING ACCESS TO UNIVERSITY AND MORE BENEFIT FROM EMA
New figures showing the impact of the SNP Government’s commitment to support young people from deprived backgrounds have been welcomed today.
Figures from the Scottish Funding Council show that the number of entrants to higher education from the most deprived areas reached a record high of 15.8%. The Post-16 Education Reform Act introduced Widening Access Agreements to help more students from the poorest backgrounds get into further and higher education – a measure opposed by Labour who voted against the bill at every stage.
Meanwhile the number of young people receiving Educational Maintenance Allowances (EMAs) increased by 3.3% to a total of 35,515 in 2012/13 – the highest number of school pupils to receive the payment since 2008/09. The support mechanism that helps support young people from low income families was scrapped in England by the Westminster Government.
One of the SNP Government’s earliest actions on taking office was to abolish tuition fees in Scotland, restoring the principle of education based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay.
Commenting, SNP MSP George Adam who sits on the Education and Culture Committee said:
“These figures showing that a record proportion of university students in Scotland are coming from the most deprived areas are a welcome demonstration of the progress that is being made.
“We firmly believe that education should be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay – which is why we abolished backdoor tuition fees in Scotland’s colleges and universities.
“It is why we legislated for Widening Access Agreements to encourage Scotland’s universities to do more to admit students from poorer backgrounds – a measure shamefully opposed at every turn by Labour.
“And it is why we have protected Educational Maintenance Allowances while Westminster has scrapped them in England.
“Clearly there is no room for complacency, but these figures are a welcome indication that these important steps are paying off with more people from poorer backgrounds supported in their education.”
The figures from the Scottish Funding Council can be viewed by clicking here.