Teachers, students and politicians have called for a U-turn over the scrapping of a “ground-breaking” and “essential” programme which helped young people from deprived backgrounds into university.

As revealed exclusively by The Herald, the Advanced Higher Hub at Glasgow Caledonian University is due to be shut down as a result of funding cuts.

The decision has already been condemned by the Glasgow City Parents Group, which said that the closure would “add an additional barrier for pupils accessing the learning they need to pursue their future ambitions.”

Now local teachers, former pupils, student representatives and opposition politicians have spoken out and called for the cut to be reversed.

Both Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Funding Council – a body which operates at ‘arms-length’ from the Scottish Government and distributes funding for colleges and universities – plan to withdraw financial support for the Advanced Higher Hub at the end of this academic year.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Funding Council told The Herald that the organisation had been “proud to support the development of Advanced Higher provision across the Glasgow region along with its partners, GCU and Glasgow City Council.” They added that “delivery of provision will now return to the City Council and be embedded within the secondary school offering”, a move described as “building on the success of the Advanced Higher Hub.”

READ MORE: Glasgow Advanced Higher Hub to close amid funding cuts

In its original statement responding to our story, Glasgow City Council pointed to a £50m hole in its 2023/24 budget and stated that its plans include “a network of local secondary schools that will offer harmonised timetables to maximise opportunities for pupils in their senior phase.”

However, former staff and pupils at the Hub, as well as teachers currently working in Glasgow secondary schools, have told The Herald that schools cannot replicate the benefits of the programme, which took place in the university’s city-centre campus.

Writing for The Herald today, former Hub student Liam Mclaughlan argues that the programme’s success “can’t be measured by grading” and praised the way in which learning in a campus environment helped make him the first and so far sole member of his family to enter university.

These concerns are also echoed by Jack Wands, who became the first pupil from his school to attend Oxford University and credits his success to participation in the Advanced Higher Hub scheme.

Despite the council’s assurances around the future of Advanced Higher provision in the city, teachers from schools in Glasgow have contacted The Herald to speak out against the closure.

READ MORE: 'Glasgow's Advanced Higher Hub got me to Oxford, its closure saddens me.'

Commenting on condition of anonymity, one teacher said that the closure announcement had “really disheartened” them and “feels like a purposeful knife in the side of social mobility.” They added that the “implication for teacher workload is obscene too.”

Another teacher told us that the Hub is a “great model” and that “to rip this away so suddenly will have a serious detrimental effect on [pupils’] opportunities and the attainment gap”, adding that they were already dealing with pupils who are worried that the loss of the Hub will place additional barriers in their path.

The local branch of Scotland’s largest teaching union added their voice to the chorus of criticism, stating that they “strongly condemn” the closure of the Hub and want to see the cut reversed.

An EIS Glasgow spokesperson continued:

“Withdrawal of funds by Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Funding Council is yet another crushing blow to the life chances of our S6 students in Glasgow and beyond.

“The Hub is essential to supporting our senior phase academic pathways, offering the opportunity not only to study for these qualifications but also to experience first-hand the day-to-day life in university.

“With budgets and staffing stretched to breaking point, this experience can never be replicated for our students in schools, and we would call for an urgent review of this cut and for funding to be restored to this vital project.”

READ MORE: A sign of decline - why shutting down the Advanced Higher Hub is a backwards step

NUS Scotland President Ellie Gomersall also warned of the damage that will be done if the Advanced Higher Hub is scrapped. She said:

 “The planned closure of the Advanced Higher Hub at GCU demonstrates the very real impact that cuts to our education has on students.

“Services like this one, which make students' journeys into higher education easier and more accessible, are incredibly valuable, particularly for students from the most deprived communities.

“The Scottish Government must start listening to students and stop the cuts to our education.“ 

Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson, Pam Duncan-Glancy MSP, said:

“This ground-breaking initiative is yet another casualty of SNP Green cuts.

“Local authority and higher education budgets have been slashed on the SNP’s watch and the poorest students are paying the price. This government has failed the next generation of Scotland’s young people and I don’t think young people will let them forget that.

“It’s clear young people need change – only Scottish Labour can offer that.”