A BID to boost the number of youngsters from deprived communities going to university has been hailed as a “significant milestone.”

It is hoped that, under the new Framework for Fair Access, people living in poorer areas in Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire will have the same chance of progressing to higher education as those from more affluent homes.

The framework has been set up after being recommended by the Commission on Widening Access.

Latest figures show 15 per cent of full-time undergraduate students starting university come from 20 per cent of the most deprived backgrounds.

The Scottish Government wants to see 20 per cent of new entrants to higher education coming from these areas by 2030.

An interim target of 16 per cent, to be achieved by 2021, has also been set.

Professor Sir Peter Scott, Commissioner for Fair Access, said: “The framework is designed to produce a step-change in our knowledge about which fair access activities work best.

“It is also designed to act as a focus, even a rallying point, for grassroots access and participation practitioners across Scotland.”

Higher education minister Richard Lochhead added: “Scotland is ahead of the curve in delivering equality of access, with 15 per cent of entrants to Scottish universities now coming from the 20 per cent most deprived areas in Scotland – just 0.4 per cent short of our goal for 2021.

“However, we can still do more.

“Sharing learning on how best to support disadvantaged learners to realise their potential is key to this.”

Universities Scotland director Alastair Sim described the new framework as “one of many exciting developments in the access landscape in Scotland already this year.”

He said: “These developments include bold action from universities to set minimum entry requirements for under-represented students starting degrees in 2021.”

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