Record number of students from deprived areas at university

A record number of full time first degree students at Scottish universities were from the most deprived areas in Scotland last year. 

New figures show that, in 2017/18, 15.6% of students entering university were from the 20% most deprived areas. This is 0.4% short of the Government’s target for 2021. 

Last year also saw an increase in the total number of Scottish students enrolling in Scottish universities. 

The statistics, published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), show the latest progress in the drive to widen access to higher education.

Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said:

“These statistics highlight the good progress being made on widening access to higher education. I’m pleased to see more Scots going to university here and a record increase in entrants from our most deprived areas.

“Combined with recent UCAS statistics, this shows demonstrable progress towards giving every young person in Scotland an equal chance of success, no matter their background or circumstance.

“It is also great to see a record number of enrolments and an increased number of qualifications achieved in 2017/18. All of this speaks to the level of excellence found across our higher education institutions.”

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam said:

“We are lucky in Paisley to have the University of the West of Scotland right on our doorstep, and for years UWS have been leading the way on widening access to higher education for all.

“Back in 2015, 27% of Scottish-based students were from the 20% most deprived postcodes and UWS are the UK’s number 1 university for accepting students from further education. Additionally, the University have achieved a 43% rise in applications from young people leaving care – with an enrolment increase of 500%. “These are very promising statistics and as Paisley’s MSP, I’m proud to have such an inclusive institution in my constituency. I can only encourage more and more young people across Scotland to apply to University and know that they will be welcomed and supported regardless of background.”


George Adam MSP for Paisley has said SNP plans to establish a Scottish National Investment bank will help transform inclusive growth across Renfrewshire.

Last month, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP announced plans for an initial investment in the bank of £130 million as part of his draft budget proposals for 2019/20.

Subject to regulatory and legislative approval, the national investment bank will aim to begin investing in Scottish businesses and communities from 2020 – investing at least £2 billion in its first ten years.

The investment bank will provide loans of up to £10 million for small to medium sized local enterprises with high growth potential.

In advance of the Scottish National Investment Bank’s establishment, a £150 million Building Scotland Fund announced in 2017 will provide debt and equity support to the private sector and organisations, such as housing associations and universities, to support the development of housing across all tenures, develop modern industrial and commercial space and support industry-led research and Development.

MSPs are set to vote on the Scottish Government’s budget proposals at Holyrood next month.

Commenting, SNP MSP George Adam said:

“A national investment bank has enormous potential to transform communities here in Paisley and across Scotland. Operating within a core set of principles, the bank will deliver sustainable growth – with both individuals and small local businesses set to benefit. 

Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy here in Paisley so it’s very exciting that we are one step closer to providing historic investment for projects the length and breadth of Scotland.

“I would urge MSPs of all parties to get behind the plans.” 

SCDI’s Director of Policy and Public Affairs Matt Lancashire said:

“We welcome announcement of £130 million to support the creation of the Scottish National Investment Bank, which will deploy patient capital to back long-term investment in business scale-up and innovation, and could have a positive impact. We also welcome the decision not to progress the out of town Business Rates levy and additional support for our struggling town centres to help them adapt in light of continued change.”

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) Policy & Campaigns Officer Paul Bradley said:

“The Bank provides the opportunity for Scotland to establish itself as a global leader in moving to a high-performing and modern economy, one built on sustainable finance to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy where the benefits are realised across all groups in Scottish society. SCVO will continue to monitor and feed into the process of setting up the Bank.”


Paisley’s MSP George Adam, has called on Renfrewshire Council to make the most of the Scottish Government’s plans to introduce a £50 million Town Centre Fund.

Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay MSP, announced the new ring-fenced fund – that will be available through the local authority settlement – during his draft budget statement last month.

The proposal aims to drive local economic growth by helping town centres fund projects such as re-purposing buildings for retail, business and community enterprise, while improving access and infrastructure.  

Commenting, SNP MSP George Adam said:

“The Finance Secretary’s plans to introduce a new £50 million Town Centre Fund could help transform towns like Paisley and others across Renfrewshire.

“The fund will be passed on through the local authority settlement, so it’s up to Renfrewshire Council to make sure our local town centre sees the benefit of this substantial investment through community improvement projects.

“All high streets across Scotland face challenges as online retail changes the way we shop. This fund has the potential to stimulate real development in our town centres and to help communities thrive.

“I hope my parliamentary colleagues from across the political divide will get behind these Budget proposals to ensure our town centres across Renfrewshire can benefit.”  

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland Policy Chair, said:

“Over the last few years, independent businesses have been leading a fightback on our high streets. But local traders can’t prop up our town centres on their own. That’s why we’re pleased to see Derek Mackay back the FSB’s idea for a new Scottish town centre diversification fund. Similarly, a below inflation increase to business rates will give many smaller firms outside existing help much needed breathing space.”



George Adam MSP

Paisley’s MSP George Adam has welcomed the news that Renfrewshire has seen a significant rise in the number of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) since 2017.

Figures released by the Department of Transport reveal that the number of ultra-low emission and electric vehicles in Renfrewshire increased by 179% between 2017 and 2018.

Across Scotland, the number of people driving electric vehicles has almost tripled since 2016 – rising by 130% in two years.

The Scottish Government has pledged to introduce low emission zones in Scotland’s four biggest cities by 2020, and phase out the need for new petrol and diesel cars by 2032 – 8 years ahead of the UK government’s target.   

The SNP in government has also committed to delivering 20 electric towns by 2025, and work to electrify the A9 trunk road with the provision of charging points along the route recently began.

Commenting, Paisley’s MSP George Adam said:

“I welcome the news that the number of ultra-low emission and electric vehicles in Renfrewshire is continuing to rise.

“These figures are testament to people’s commitment to clean air and clean energy in Scotland, and will help to make our towns and cities more accessible – and are an important part of the fight against climate change.  

“Ultra-low emission vehicles give us the opportunity to set a path for less pollution and improve the quality of air in the places that we live, work and visit.

“I have contacted multiple car companies and engaged in quite a few productive discussions about how they as manufacturers are making progress. It is clear that car companies are moving in the right direction too therefore, we, as legislators, must ensure that we work with them to achieve a positive outcome.

“The SNP will continue this progress and maintain Scotland’s reputation as a global leader on tackling air pollution and climate change.”



George outside the old St Mirren ground on Love St

SNP MSP George Adam has renewed calls for an immediate halt to Universal Credit after it was revealed that councils are spending millions of pounds attempting to undo the damage of this failed Tory policy.


A series of Freedom of Information requests discovered that local authorities in Scotland have spent more than £24 million to mitigate the harmful effects of Universal Credit, which has faced huge backlash since its introduction.


Renfrewshire Council has set aside 1,596,000 for spending related to UC, with extra funds being reserved to manage the impact of Universal Credit on council housing tenants finding themselves plunged into rent arrears and poverty.


Universal Credit has been beset by problems since its rollout. This week, one of the UK’s biggest housing associations said that more than 100,000 children could face hardship over Christmas because families are being forced to wait for more than five weeks for their first benefit payment, and the Trussell Trust has warned that they are preparing for their busiest month ever – after a 15% rise in foodbank use in Scotland in the past year.


SNP MSP George Adam said:


“Universal Credit is a broken system – it’s leaving people destitute, driving kids into poverty and forcing families to rely on foodbanks in Paisley.


“And these latest eye-watering figures show that Renfrewshire Council has been left picking up the pieces, being forced to shell out 1,596,000.


“Money is being diverted away from key public services to cover the costs and mitigate the damage caused by this appalling change being imposed by the UK Government on Scotland. That is fundamentally unfair.


“But there’s an easy solution – halt the rollout of Universal Credit and fix this broken policy. Or better still, put all welfare powers in the hands of the Scottish Parliament – so we can build a social security system which puts dignity, fairness and respect at its heart.”



George Adam MSP


SNP MSP George Adam has welcomed the announcement that the first payments of the Best Start Grant will be delivered to families in Paisley in time for Christmas.

The Best Start Grant – which provides low-income families with financial support during the early years of a child’s life – will see eligible applicants receive £600 for their first child, £100 more than the UK government’s equivalent in England.

Best Start Grants replace and expand on the UK Government’s Sure Start Maternity Grant by providing eligible families with £600 on the birth of their first child and £300 on the birth of any subsequent children.
SNP MSP George Adam said:
“I am delighted that families in Paisley will be eligible for their first payments of the Best Start Grant in time for Christmas. These new payments will ensure that our under 5’s get the best possible start in life.

“It’s vital that the SNP government can provide help at a time when families in Paisley are seeing UK government social security support drastically reduced, and Universal Credit is causing hardship across Scotland.

“By reversing and mitigating the Tory cuts that have been so damaging to families in Paisley and ensuring that we support those on the lowest incomes, the SNP are building a social security system based on dignity and respect.

George tries virtual reality in the Scottish Parliament

George and VR

It was reality, but not as we know it, for George Adam as he gave virtual reality a try, courtesy of Sue Ryder.


The charity, which operates Sue Ryder Dee View Court, Scotland’s only specialist residential care centre for people living with complex neurological conditions, such as Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis and acquired brain injuries, uses virtual reality as a form of therapy for its patients.


The system, which was specially developed for Sue Ryder Dee View Court users by tech company Immersicare allows residents to find themselves in places they may not be able to visit, such as the beach, jungle or outer space. Its impact has been so positive that the system is now being rolled out to all of Sue Ryder’s neurological care centres.


George said:


“New technology has a place in healthcare.  This is one of the simplest examples of this but the virtual reality technology is far from simple.  The benefits of this type of technology can only expand.  In this age when we experience and are aware of stories about the down side of new technology we should recognise the almost unlimited potential that can and will be discovered for the benefit of all.”


Pamela Mackenzie, Director of Neurological Care and Scotland at Sue Ryder, said:


Early evidence from the team at Sue Ryder Dee View Court shows that use of virtual reality by people with neurological conditions is helping to lower blood pressure and pain levels as well as boosting mood and wellbeing.


“As we eagerly await the Scottish Government’s National Action Plan on Neurological Conditions, it seems like a good time to share with others the innovative technology we are using with our service users to improve their quality of life.”


Public Health and Wellbeing Minister Joe FitzPatrick said:


“The use of virtual reality technology to help people with neurological conditions is a great example of innovation in health and social care. I commend Sue Ryder for this and the wider work they do in supporting people living with these conditions.


“The Scottish Government wants to ensure that people living with neurological conditions have access to the best possible care and support across the country. We have worked in partnership with the neurological community to develop Scotland’s first ever National Action Plan on Neurological Conditions. We will publish the draft plan in the coming weeks for public consultation and I would encourage everyone to provide their views.”


Theresa May has failed to guarantee the supply of medicine to the NHS in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

SNP Westminster Leader raised the issue after it was revealed the government last week quietly began a tender process to try and stockpile medicines at a cost of tens of millions of pounds.

It follows comments from the UK government’s most senior health official who says he cannot be “confident” that essential medicines will still be available after a no-deal Brexit – describing the task as “extremely difficult”.

Paisley’s MSP , George Adam said:


“The Prime Minister cannot guarantee the supply of medicines in the event of a No deal. This is chaos of the Tory government’s own making.


“Last week we found out the UK government are giving out contracts to stockpile medication at the cost of tens of millions of pounds.



“Funds that should be spent on frontline health services. And funds that this week’s Budget was totally silent on.


“We all know people or have relatives that are dependent on medication, especially for long term conditions.  This is not some kind of abstract problem, this is the prospect of people being harmed because they cannot access the medication that they need.  How can we have come to this position where small mindedness can affect people’s health.”


Brexit: Ministers launch ‘tens of millions’ bid to stockpile medicine
Senior official cannot be confident essential medicines would still be available:
Indy report says (18 October) –
“England’s most senior health official says he cannot be “confident” that essential medicines will still be available after a no-deal Brexit – describing the task as “extremely difficult”.

Maintaining supplies would be “very complex” if the UK crashes out of the EU, Sir Chris Wormald told MPs, adding: “I never use words like confident.”
Sir Chris, the department of health’s permanent secretary, warned there were also major concerns about staff shortages and the treatment of British travellers to the EU after Brexit….
…At the meeting of the Commons Brexit committee, Sir Chris was asked whether he was “confident that the supply of essential medicines will be maintained in the event of no deal”.

After declining to say he was, Sir Chris said his department was “pleased” with the response of pharmaceutical firms, but added: “It’s a very complex market and a very complex supply chain
“As no-one can really predict exactly what will happen, there will be decisions we will have to make along the way.”
Sir Chris added that it would be “extremely difficult” to guarantee that all supplies would be fully maintained.


George Adam


George on Paisley High StreetSNP MSP George Adam has criticised the UK Government for failing the people of Paisley following this year’s Budget announcement.

After promising to end austerity, the UK Government’s budget has in fact failed Scottish people, with Scotland’s resource block grant almost £2 billion lower in real terms next year than it was less than a decade ago.

The Budget does not deliver on the promises of a rise in public spending – Scotland’s NHS has been short-changed, the disastrous roll-out of Universal Credit has not been halted, and the richest 10% of the UK population will be the ones who benefit most from Tory tax cuts.

George said:

“This Tory Budget falls a long way short of delivering for the people of Scotland.

“Working people will be £1,600 worse off thanks to their mishandling of Brexit, and the changes in this year’s Budget do nothing to alleviate the untold damage this will do.

“The reality of this Budget is that the Tories have dug themselves a deeper hole, with no clue how to get out of it. People in Paisley, and across Scotland, are getting a bad deal with the Tories.

“The SNP will not support Tory tax cuts for the richest at the expense of the poor.

“Instead of ploughing on with more harmful austerity, the UK Government should commit to a realistic plan for investment in public services, to grow the economy and to boost jobs, incomes and living standards.

“This budget has exposed in stark terms the democratic deficit of the UK, and why we need full powers over Scotland’s finances to grow our economy and build a fairer country.”



Geroge Adam MSP


George outside Paisley's East End Branch of the Bank of Scotland


A Tory MSP has written to the editor of the Herald newspaper, warning that her own party’s Universal Credit policy risks “failing those who the system set out to support”.

In a remarkably frank letter, which will make difficult reading for many of her Tory colleagues, Annie Wells details the scale of the issue facing her constituents in the city of Glasgow “who are worried about the impact the rollout will have on their lives”.

Ms Wells calls for reassurances from her colleagues in the UK government that the views of the “most vulnerable in our society . . . will be listened to” and the rollout of Universal Credit does not continue to adversely impact families across Scotland, who are being driven into poverty and relying on foodbanks as a direct result of this disastrous Tory policy.

Commenting, the SNP’s George Adam MSP who sits on Holyrood’s Social Security Committee said:

“This is an incredibly frank, yet welcome, admission from a Tory MSP that the rollout of Universal Credit is having a damaging impact on people’s lives. There is no doubt has been a disaster – driving kids into poverty and forcing families to rely on foodbanks.

“But Annie Wells cannot hide from the fact it is her own party which is responsible for Universal Credit, and it’s her party which is refusing to back down in face of truly devastating evidence of the human cost.

“You have to wonder why on earth she’s writing to the Herald editor, instead of persuading her Tory colleagues to bring a halt to the rollout of this failed policy.

“And if Annie Wells can speak out, it simply exposes the deafening silence on this issue from Ruth Davidson and her 13 Scottish Tory MPs.”