Press release

Back modern universities to boost life chances, says MillionPlus Principal

14 Oct 2019

Professor Nigel Seaton, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Abertay University, will today (14 October) speak on behalf of MillionPlus, the Association for Modern Universities, at a fringe event at the SNP conference in Aberdeen, co-hosted by NUS Scotland.

Professor Seaton will share the platform with Richard Lochhead MSP, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science; Carol Monaghan MP, SNP Spokesperson for Education in Westminster; Liam McCabe, NUS Scotland President; and Zamzam Ibrahim, NUS President.

In his speech, Professor Seaton will say that across Scotland it is modern universities that do the “heavy lifting” on widening access and participation, with most disadvantaged students and mature students attending such institutions.

Professor Seaton will warn that real-terms cuts in Scottish Government funding for universities disproportionately affect modern universities, because of their greater dependence on public funding and so risk undermining efforts towards improving educational opportunities for all.

He will say:

“A third of all students in Scotland and the majority of students from the country’s most disadvantaged backgrounds attend a modern university, as do the bulk of mature learners.

“It is therefore the modern universities that make the greatest contribution to social mobility through university education in Scotland, and, although widening access is not purely about public investment, it is these same universities that are most affected by continuing cuts in public funding.

“At Abertay, our core mission is strongly focused on social mobility and we believe that modern universities, which tend to be deeply rooted in their local communities with strong links to industry, can play a key role in levelling the playing field for future generations.”


Notes to editors

  1. For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Dan Blows on 020 3927 2916 or email
  2. MillionPlus is the Association for Modern Universities in the UK, and the voice of 21st century higher education. We champion, promote and raise awareness of the essential role and impact of modern universities in the UK’s world-leading higher education sector. More information can be found at
  3. What are modern universities? Modern universities are long established centres of higher education in their communities with roots that stretch back decades, if not centuries. Many gained university title following legislation agreed by parliament in 1992. They make up almost half of the UK university sector with over a million students studying at modern universities every year.
  4. Modern universities: facts and stats