By Press Office 30 April 2015

Key figures from education and business, including the Principal of Queen Margaret University, will join student leaders in developing plans to help more students from disadvantaged backgrounds in Scotland to enter and succeed in higher education.

Professor Petra Wend, Principal of Queen Margaret University, has been appointed as a Member of the Commission on Widening Access. The new Commission, which was announced by the First Minister in November 2014, is chaired by Dame Ruth Silver.

The Commission has been set up in light of the Scottish Government's commitment to improve access to educational opportunities for disadvantaged people and recognition that more work in widening participation is required.

The Commission, which will comprise 12 members, is part of the Scottish Government's Programme for Government to guarantee a move towards 20 per cent of university entrants coming from the most disadvantaged 20 per cent of society. Recognising that widening participation requires action across the educational system, the Commissioners are drawn from a range of backgrounds and sectors including higher and further education, schools, early years, and the student body.

Professor Wend has been asked to join the Commission due to the insight and experience she is able to bring as Vice-Convenor of Universities Scotland and former chair of Universities Scotland's Learning and Teaching Committee. Her connections with the school teacher community through her recent work as Chair of the National Implementation Board for Teaching Scotland's Future will also be a great asset.

Professor Wend said: "I am passionate about ensuring equality of opportunity in access to university and Queen Margaret University already plays a significant role in helping more people from disadvantaged backgrounds secure places in higher education. This next phase of widening access work, which will be supported by the Commission, is to identify ways of ensuring equality of access to education for all members of our community and provide them with every opportunity to succeed. I look forward to working with colleagues on the Commission'.

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