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Chapter 4 Mainstreaming Widening Access to Engage Students in Higher Education

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 explores the reasons why higher education institutions (HEIs) have engaged with learners before entry into HE and examines the ways in which this transformed institutions.

Methodology/approach – The chapter draws on evidence collected in the South West of England about the ways in which HEIs worked with schools and colleges to reach out to learners with the potential to progress to HE but who come from backgrounds with little tradition of accessing HE. This evidence is set within a literature framework to contextualise the findings. The chapter considers outreach work as part of the whole student lifecycle beginning before university entry and continuing beyond graduation.

Findings – The chapter finds that outreach work is particularly valuable when it is undertaken by partnerships. Within a partnership framework, each institution can contribute their specialist expertise to provide a coherent, progressive programme of activities for young people to help them to consider progression to HE. Partnerships facilitated knowledge transfer so that all institutions benefitted from the lessons learnt particularly with respect to the training of student ambassadors and the use of data for targeting and evaluating the programme.

Implications – Pre-entry engagement helped learners to acquire more information about HE so that they could make informed choices about mode of study, subject and institution. This, in turn, improved retention rates and helped HEIs to smooth the transition into HE, to diversify their entry profile and to enhance the educational experience.



Hatt, S. and Tate, J. (2011), "Chapter 4 Mainstreaming Widening Access to Engage Students in Higher Education", 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. 119-128.



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