As part of ‘radical steps’ to resolve the gaps and even sexism that have been exposed and ‘exacerbated’ in access to higher education, a RECOVERY fund is now required.
As he defines a “triple whammy” for poorer groups, the Scottish Equal Access Commissioner says universities should think about further changing minimum access standards.
The equal access commissioner Pete Scott says the rise in the number of supported places for Scottish students, made to meet higher than anticipated this year’s Higher and Advanced Higher grades, should be made permanent to avoid the possibility for poor applicants of “crushing opportunities”
And he said a Covid 19 recovery fund based explicitly on combating “digital poverty,” financial deprivation and poor mental health among students, should be considered by the Scottish government, the Scottish Funding Council and institutions.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland has set a goal for the higher education sector that 20 percent of first-year students in Scotland should come from 20 percent of the most deprived communities by 2030.
And Mr. Scott said that “regardless of any loss of momentum (or ground) that may have occurred as an unintended consequence of Covid-19 measures, an interim target of 18 percent of entrants from the most disadvantaged communities by 2026 should be reaffirmed.”
In his interim results, he said the “headline” is that Covid-19 “exposed and exacerbated existing inequities in access to higher education.”
“In short, to paraphrase Matthew’s Principle, the most is taken away from those who have the least,” he said.
“There is no longer any room for skepticism about fair access and the priority it should enjoy in the future development of higher education in Scotland.”
In a “triple whammy” of blows to deprived neighbourhoods, he cautioned that more stringent public health measures have resulted in higher levels of illnesses and deaths, while schools have suffered more damage and the effect on jobs and incomes has been greater.
And the latest report notes that “there is a real risk that the attainment gap between pupils in the most advantaged and most disadvantaged schools will widen as a result of disruption, which has been greatest in areas of greatest social deprivation.” despite the best efforts of schools and local authorities.
Mr. Scott, Professor of Higher Education Studies at the UCL Institute of Education, cautioned that “it will clearly take several years for the impact of disruption to schooling to be dealt with and for the shock to the ambitions and aspirations of young people in more socially disadvantaged communities to wear off.” in the sense of equal access to higher education.
During the Covid 19 crisis, students and prospective and actual students from lower socioeconomic households suffered from the “main problem of digital poverty” and found it “harder” to participate in the transition to more online provision.
In contrast to their more socially advantaged peers, their access to IT, efficient Wi-Fi, and secure learning spaces was “limited compared to that of their more socially advantaged peers.”
And while all institutions have worked hard to reduce Covid-19’s effects, the greatest burden has fallen on those institutions that have the largest proportion of disadvantaged students, but also the most limited resources, he said.
“He said that, given how the pandemic has emphasized “deep-rooted disadvantage” and “discrimination,” consideration should be given to “making the emergency measures adopted by colleges and universities permanent.
“Covid-19 has exposed the massive and morally unacceptable inequalities that exist in society and the economy and distort our democracy. They are now out in the open. They cannot be denied. There is no longer room for skepticism about the urgent need for fair access. Nor can these inequalities be trivialized and attributed to deficits in achievement or entitlement. Effects can no longer be confused with causes.”The massive and morally unacceptable inequalities that exist in society and the economy have been exposed by Covid-19 and are distorting our democracy. They are now out in the open. They can not be denied. There is no longer room for skepticism about the urgent need for fair access. Nor can these inequalities be trivialized and attributed to achievement or entitlement deficits.
He said individual universities and colleges should use disadvantage measures to recognize those who, as a result of Covid-19, are “newly impoverished” and set their own goals.
He also said universities needed to investigate,