A ground-breaking programme that helped disadvantaged young people into university is to be shut down, The Herald can confirm.

The Advanced Higher Hub at Glasgow Caledonian University is the latest victim of funding cuts at both the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council.

The decision to close the programme marks “a worrying time for learners and their parents or carers”, according to the Glasgow City Parents Group.

Established in 2013, the Hub allowed sixth-year pupils from across the city the chance to study Advanced Higher subjects not offered in their own schools. The programme achieved pass rates of over 90% and boosted the number of Advanced Higher students from the most deprived parts of Glasgow.

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As well as studying for Advanced Higher qualifications, which are intended to expose young people to undergraduate-level work, students attending the hub gained experience of attending a university environment and mixing with learners from other parts of Glasgow. This transition experience was presented as a key benefit to those taking part, and the Hub was described as a “flagship, educational bridging programme” by the university.

During a visit in 2018, then education secretary John Swinney praised the “impressive” achievements of the scheme, highlighting in particular that “70 per cent [of students] come from the 40 per cent most deprived areas of the country”. In that same year, an evaluation of the programme found that it had been particularly beneficial for “learners from schools in disadvantaged areas”.

In January 2020, one of the Hub’s teachers received a prestigious University of Oxford Inspirational Teacher Award, and in 2021 the former director of education at Glasgow City Council suggested that the Advanced Higher Hub model could be “extended”.

However, funding from the Scottish Government and the local authority will now be withdrawn, meaning that the Hub will cease operations at the end of the current academic year. The Herald understands that Glasgow City Council plans to save £90k by cutting funding for the Hub.

The Herald: The programme at Glasgow Caledonian University achieved pass rates of over 90% and boosted the number of Advanced Higher students from the most deprived areasThe programme at Glasgow Caledonian University achieved pass rates of over 90% and boosted the number of Advanced Higher students from the most deprived areas (Image: Newsquest)
A spokesperson for Glasgow Caledonian University told The Herald: “We have been informed that the delivery of Advanced Highers through the Hub at Glasgow Caledonian will not continue beyond this academic year.

“We will continue to work with schools across Glasgow through our existing schools engagement programme and we remain committed to our strong tradition of widening access to higher education to people from more disadvantaged backgrounds.

“The University will focus all our efforts into securing other alternative employment for our staff either within the University or with Glasgow City Council. We also expect there may be a proportion of staff who will wish to leave through a voluntary severance arrangement.”

Leanne McGuire, spokesperson for the Glasgow City Parents Group, said: “Glasgow Caledonian University Advanced Higher Hub is a great stepping stone for school pupils to experience a taste of university learning, particularly for pupils who may not have considered university an option when they leave school. It also gives schools a wider breadth of study options for pupils that the school cannot provide.

“The closure of the hub will ultimately add an additional barrier for pupils accessing the learning they need to pursue their future ambitions, and with the additional proposed cuts to funding university places, it's a worrying time for learners and their parents or carers.”

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A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council said: “The council’s budget for 2023/24 had a spending gap of £50million.

“Education has by far the biggest budget and was protected in relative terms in comparison to other services in order to safeguard learning and teaching as much as possible.

“Our schools have been reviewing processes that will lessen any impact to the individual needs of our young people.

“This includes a network of local secondary schools that will offer harmonised timetables to maximise opportunities for pupils in their senior phase.

“The intention is that young people will be able to move between schools just as they moved from school to GCU to get the subjects they want.”

The Scottish Government was approached for comment.