Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and The Glasgow School of Art host international conference on widening access to higher education

Published: June 27, 2017


Education experts, including the Commissioner for Fair Access to Higher Education in Scotland, will gather in Glasgow for a conference exploring international perspectives on widening access and participation.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and The Glasgow School of Art are joint hosts of the 2017 Forum for Access and Continuing Education (FACE) conference which takes place between June 28 and 30 at Scotland’s national conservatoire.

Almost 150 national and international delegates will attend the three-day event which will examine current practice, policy and research through keynote speakers, workshops, presentations and networking sessions.

Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science said: “We are determined to ensure that every child gets an equal chance to go to university. As we work to widen access and to implement the recommendations of the Commission on Widening Access, it is important that we learn from what works well in other countries too. This conference provides a valuable opportunity to do just that and I am delighted to be giving the keynote address.”

Keynote speakers include Professor Sir Peter Scott who was appointed the first Commissioner for Fair Access to Higher Education in Scotland by the Scottish Government in December 2016. He will outline his ambitions and priorities for widening access within the Scottish education sector.

Joining Professor Sir Peter Scott as keynote speakers are Alan Sherry, Principal of Glasgow Kelvin College; Robin Ozz, President of the American National Association for Developmental Education and Vonnie Sandlan, President of NUS Scotland.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – one of the world’s top three institutions for performing arts education – has a number of widening access programmes to support recruitment of exceptional entrants from a range of backgrounds.

These include the award-winning Transitions 20/40 which aims to provide funded training and mentoring for those in key Scottish postcodes who wish to study within the performing or production arts. Widening Access to the Creative Industries (Production and Performance) is run by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on behalf of FOCUS West and offers tailored support to S5 and S6 pupils who are interesting in progressing in the performing or production arts

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “We are pleased to partner with Glasgow School of Art to host this year’s FACE conference which is an opportunity for educators and practitioners to share knowledge and exchange views on widening access, equality, diversity and inclusion.

“No-one should face barriers to education – it is our belief that nurturing the talent of a greater diversity of people enriches and increases their life choices.

“Championing diversity and advancing lifelong learning are at the heart of our values at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and our widening access programme enables people from all walks of life to reach their full potential.”

Professor Tom Inns, Director of the GSA, said: “The Glasgow School of Art is one of the leading higher education institutions in Scotland for recruitment from our most marginalised communities. “Although the GSA attracts students from across the globe, we are particularly proud of our continued connection and commitment to Glasgow and the West of Scotland.

“This is particularly exemplified through the increasing numbers of young people achieving a place to study here following involvement on programmes we run with partner schools and colleges through our widening participation programmes.”

The Glasgow School of Art’s Widening Participation programme works with more than 500 young people from 90 different schools each year. Through summer schools, portfolio development classes and a range of workshops in areas such a design, photography and sculpture making, it seeks to raise aspirations of under-represented prospective students and to support progress to arts and design-based higher education at university or college.

In partnership with Glasgow Clyde College, the GSA also works with students who are studying for their HNC Art and Design. The students attend a range of workshops and research skill development sessions at GSA and are supported to progress and continue their studies by entering into second year.