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Chapter 3 Institutional Transformation to Mainstream Diversity

Institutional Transformation to Engage a Diverse Student Body

ISBN: 978-0-85724-903-6, eISBN: 978-0-85724-904-3

Publication date: 28 June 2011


Purpose – This chapter answers the question ‘what does a transformed institution look like’ by presenting a framework for institutional transformation to mainstream diversity. It exemplifies the framework by assessing how well English higher education institutions (HEIs) are doing with respect to mainstreaming. Relevant examples of change from the case studies are identified.

Methodology/approach – Reports from two institutional change programmes in the United Kingdom and the European Universities Charter on Lifelong Learning are synthesised to create a framework for change to mainstream diversity. The framework is used to assess the progress of English HEIs. This analysis is based on data from a thematic review of the Widening Participation Strategic Assessments (WPSAs) prepared by each of the 129 English HEIs. Each WPSA was coded up. Query reports were read and re-read to identify common approaches and themes.

Findings – The 12 item framework for mainstreaming diversity demonstrates that institutions need to attend to both infrastructure (policies, processes and procedures) and the institutional culture (the understandings and implementation of a strategy). The analysis suggests that English HEIs are making good progress towards this challenging agenda of change.

Research limitations – The WPSAs are a subjective account of WP, and claims have not been checked. Furthermore, WPSAs were written at a specific time and so only provide a snap-shot of institutional approaches to diversity.

Practical implications – This chapter assists institutions to think about, plan and evaluate institutional transformation.

Social implications – This approach puts diversity at the centre of HEIs.

Originality/value – The chapter provides an original framework to assist institutions to assess their progress with regard to institutional transformation to engage a diverse student body.



Thomas, L. (2011), "Chapter 3 Institutional Transformation to Mainstream Diversity", Thomas, L. and Tight, M. (Ed.) Institutional Transformation to Engage a Diverse Student Body (International Perspectives on Higher Education Research, Vol. 6), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 77-96.



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