5 Call for univer­sity fair ac­cess rank­ings

The Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

UNI­VER­SI­TIES which lower en­try grades to help poorer stu­dents are be­ing dis­ad­van­taged in pres­ti­gious league ta­bles, a se­nior of­fi­cial has warned.

Pro­fes­sor Peter Scott, Scot­land’s com­mis­sioner for fair ac­cess, said cur­rent rank­ings took no ac­count of ef­forts to im­prove the so­cial mix of higher ed­u­ca­tion.

And uni­ver­si­ties that of­fer lower en­try grades to tal­ented pupils from poorer back­grounds can ac­tu­ally be marked down.

Mr Scott called on league ta­bles to take ac­count of ac­cess pro­grammes – and even sug­gested a new “fair ac­cess” ta­ble.

He said: “Per­haps those work­ing to achieve fairer ac­cess, na­tion­ally and in in­sti­tu­tions, should de­vise a sep­a­rate fair ac­cess league ta­ble.

“No univer­sity wants to be at the bot­tom of any league ta­ble, and a fair ac­cess rank­ing would boost some in­sti­tu­tions dis­crim­i­nated against in ex­ist­ing league ta­bles.”

Mary Se­nior, UCU Scot­land of­fi­cial, said aca­demics were judged pri­mar­ily on re­search out­puts.

She added: “There are barely any per­for­mance frame­works that credit them for un­der­tak­ing work crit­i­cal to the widen­ing ac­cess agenda.

“If we have to have league ta­bles then it is im­por­tant they look at all as­pects of uni­ver­si­ties in­clud­ing fair ac­cess mea­sures.”

A spokes­woman for Uni­ver­si­ties Scot­land said: “Some league ta­bles cap­ture stu­dents’ av­er­age at­tain­ment on en­try as part of their rank­ings.

“This means that lower en­try re­quire­ments with the aim of widen­ing ac­cess could ad­versely af­fect an in­sti­tu­tion’s rank­ing.”

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