4 Higher Education

Fair access for Care-Experienced people

The Commission for Widening Access (CoWA) set out a strategy to deliver the First Minister’s vision of equal access that, by 2030, a child born in Scotland’s most deprived communities has the same chance of going to university as a child born in a least deprived community, by the time they leave school.

“…those with care experience, who meet the access threshold, should be entitled to the offer of a place at a Scottish university. Entitlement should also apply to those with a care experience who have had to take a break from higher education and wish to return.”

Scottish universities have now developed clear and consistent indicators in their contextualised admissions policies. This means that an applicant’s grades are considered within the wider context in which they were obtained. This recognise that prior academic achievement isn’t the only predictor of future potential.

A contextualised offer takes into account a wider range of contextual factors than just exam results, such as SIMD20, SHEP schools and eligibility for free school meals, as well as care experience. This has also been called adjusted entry but Scottish universities have agreed to use the term minimum entry requirements for consistency and clarity (Universities Scotland, 2019 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ). The minimum requirements for a course will reflect the best evidence on the level of achievement necessary for successful completion of the course.

Some institutions or courses may require a portfolio submission, audition or interview in addition to academic entry requirements. Contextual admissions indicators will apply to each part of the process to give Care-Experienced applicants the best chance of success.

Contextualised admissions

This is one of the most powerful tools universities use to promote fair access. If Care-Experienced applicants meet the minimum entry requirement for a course they will receive an offer.