Higher education in Scotland's colleges: opening up routes to a degree

Cannell, Pete and Thomson, Joan (2010). Higher education in Scotland's colleges: opening up routes to a degree. Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 12 pp. 103–114.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5456/WPLL.12.S.103


The Scottish Funding Council’s (SFC) strategy for widening participation, Learning for All, first published in 2005, acknowledges the contribution of Scotland’s colleges in widening the social base of higher education (HE) study in Scotland. At the time the strategy was published, just under a quarter of all HE students were located in the colleges. This proportion is falling but it remains the case that, in contrast to the university sector, the population of HE students in the colleges is skewed towards the most deprived quintile of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). Improving the opportunities for these students to move on to degree study is therefore an important component of SFC widening participation policy. The implications of the fact that the fall in HE participation in the colleges is greatest among part-time students are discussed in this paper. Data from surveys of Open University (OU) in Scotland students who had previously studied at HE level in a college are used to provide some insight into the issues of part-time progression. In particular we look at issues of transition between sectors for part-time students and the intersection of policy discourses concerned with access, inclusion and skills utilisation.

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