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Seòmar agus comataidhean

Question reference: S6W-14066

  • Asked by: Paul Sweeney, MSP for Glasgow, Scottish Labour
  • Date lodged: 19 January 2023
  • Current status: Answered by Jamie Hepburn on 26 January 2023


To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to increase male participation rates in higher education, in light of reports that poorer health outcomes for men are compounded by reduced earnings potential.  


This Government firmly believes that every child growing up in Scotland, regardless of their background or gender, should have an equal chance of attending university and participating in higher education.

To date we have made progress on work to support fair access to higher education. The number of students attending university from the most deprived areas in Scotland is at a record high and we have exceeded the Commission on Widening Access target to have 16% of students from the most deprived areas at university by 2021. We recently appointed a new Commissioner for Fair Access, Professor John McKendrick, to continue to progress this important agenda.

Scottish universities are covered by the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED), which requires them to, amongst other things, report on mainstreaming the equality duty; publish equality outcomes and report progress; and assess and review policies and practices.

As part of its March 2020 Memorandum of Understanding with the EHRC, the Scottish Funding Council developed a National Equality Outcomes framework to address the most persistent inequalities in further and higher education (HE) that institutions are asked to consider and report on as part of the 2021-25 PSED reporting cycle.

Sex, as one of the nine protected characteristics under The Equality Act (2010), is considered as part of the National Equality Outcomes, with outcomes including sex imbalance on courses and mental health support for male students.

The Scottish Government is committed to the production of a Student Mental Health Plan to support all students in further and higher education throughout their learner journey.

The Student Mental Health Plan will sit within and link to the wider actions across Scottish Government, including our Suicide Prevention Strategy, ‘ Creating Hope Together ’ which was developed and published in collaboration with COSLA in September 2022, and our forthcoming Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy.