Institutional Transformation to Engage a Diverse Student Body: Volume 6

Cover of Institutional Transformation to Engage a Diverse Student Body

Table of contents

(37 chapters)

Purpose – This chapter provides an overview of the book and discusses student diversity and institutional responses.

Methodology/approach – The chapter draws together literature and conceptual thinking about what student diversity is. It then analyses the drivers for increased diversity within higher education in the case studies in this book. Alternative approaches to diversity are presented, drawing on a synthesis of approaches identified in the literature. Finally, the chapter provides a summary of the other chapters and the associated case studies.

Findings – The chapter finds that diversity incorporates difference across a number of dimensions: education, personal disposition, current circumstances and cultural heritage. There are a wide range of reasons prompting institutions to recruit a diverse student population: a commitment to social justice, expansion and access to new markets, tapping the pool of talent, enhancing the student experience, national and/or regional policy, funding incentives, conforming with equality legislation, institutional research and personal commitment of staff. Institutions can respond to diversity in different ways. The idealised types are: altruistic (no institutional change), academic (little or no change), utilitarian (special access and additional support mechanisms) and transformative (positive view of diversity resulting in institutional development).

Research limitations – This chapter draws largely on the author's work in England and the United Kingdom and the case studies presented in this book.

Practical implications – This chapter is important as an introduction to the book, and providing frameworks to think about diversity.

Social implications – The framework for institutional change assists institutions to critically consider the response they make to a more diverse student population.

Originality/value – The paper provides original perspectives to conceptualising and responding to diversity.

This case study focuses on the experience of The Open University in creating educational opportunities and social justice for all since its inception over 40 years ago. Setting developments over the past few years in the context of the University's mission, history and model of supported open learning, the case study identifies institutional transformation as an ongoing, organic process of innovation and embedding of learning that needs to respond to a constantly changing internal and external environment. Increasing student diversity has been achieved through ongoing developments in strategy, governance and practice, underpinned by a developing evidence base that explicitly seeks out the student voice. Whilst the case study is unique, the learning it highlights is transferrable to a wide range of institutions, particularly at a time when the demand for part-time and flexible higher education is on the rise.

This chapter focuses on a case study of attempts at one South African university to widen access to adult learners from diverse race, class and gender backgrounds. It locates the education of adults within a post-apartheid policy framework aimed at transforming higher education on the one hand and pressures on universities brought about by changes in the global economy on the other. It then outlines the history of adult education programmes at the University of Cape Town, an institution that has an elite, colonial history and that privileges research over teaching. The chapter then considers the results of a 2008 survey of adult learners' experiences of the institutional culture and institution's systems, and the ways in which these present barriers to adult learners. It critically assesses three strategies adopted by staff on the ‘periphery’ of the institution to widen access to adult learners; these focus on: changing the institutional culture, developing policies and processes of recognition of prior learning (RPL) and transforming the curriculum. The chapter concludes that programme innovations have been possible with the aim of ensuring that curriculum is responsive to adult learners; however, widening access and increasing participation for adult learners also needs to be accompanied by significant changes in how the university is administered and run and that while alternative access routes into the university are theoretically possible, practical and political barriers remain.

Purpose – This chapter identifies the reasons why institutions need to undertake transformation to engage a diverse student population: it presents a model of student retention and success, which centres on student engagement pre- and post-entry.

Methodology/approach – The chapter overviews the literature on student retention and success and utilises emerging findings from the meta-analysis of the What works? Student retention and success programme.

Findings – The emerging model puts student engagement at the heart of student retention and success. Institutions should promote engagement by•Provision of a range of opportunities for student engagement of different types, at different levels, across the institution in different sites (academic sphere, social sphere and professional services sphere), throughout the student lifecycle.•Developing students to recognise the importance of engagement and to have the capacity to engage in a range of opportunities.•Developing staff responsibility for and capacity to provide effective engagement opportunities.•Taking responsibility for engagement, including monitoring engagement and acting when there are indicators of lower levels of engagement.•Creating a partnership between students and institutions towards a shared outcome of successful learners and graduates.

Research limitations – This chapter draws on emergent findings from the What works? programme.

Practical implications – This chapter assists institutions to improve student retention and success by focusing on engagement and institutional culture.

Social implications – The model assists institutions to critically consider transformation to engage a diverse student population and improve retention and success.

Originality/value – The chapter pre-views original research about engagement, retention and success, which are international concerns.

Purpose – In the project described in this chapter, a group of educationally disengaged students investigated their peers' perspectives of factors relating to low aspiration for and access to university. On the basis of their findings, they created an informative DVD to address the student needs.

Methodology/approach – Action research processes were employed in this ‘students-as-researchers’ project. The research component was carried out through surveys, while the action component was the creation of the DVD.

Findings – The student researchers found that many of their peers had unrealistic concepts of university. A lack of role models and low teacher expectations appear to lead to low tertiary aspiration, awareness and access.

Research limitations/ implications (if applicable) – The DVD had a profound impact on the participants and their school, and within a few years progression to university grew to exceed the State average.

Practical implications (if applicable) – The student researchers provided their reasons for engagement in the project that have implications for pedagogy and attempts to re-engage marginalised students with mainstream education.

Social implications – The transformation of the school's culture shows that high expectations of all students, combined with creative opportunities to demonstrate their potential, can assist in increasing educational opportunities for students from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Originality/value of paper – The main value of the chapter is in the students' rationale for their own engagement in the project, which can inform strategies to engage marginalised students.

Purpose – Through a description of changes in institutional approaches to academic advising, this case study provides strategies for improving retention rates of first-year students deemed ‘at-risk’ of leaving university before second-year enrolment.

Methodology/approach – The study targets first-years who have been identified as ‘at-risk’ in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Temple is a large public research institution in the United States, home to approximately 35,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) students, of whom, 6,000 are enrolled in the CLA. The current case study focuses on the systematic and intentional processes developed by academic advisors or tutors in CLA to ensure students' progression from their first to second year. Project 2013, named for the intended graduation year of the initial target population, is a proactive retention initiative, and this study delineates the evolution of the innovation, development of the target group, project objectives, implementation of retention strategies, outcomes of the project, successes, limitations and future considerations.

Findings – Through sustained highly personalised interventions with first-year ‘at-risk’ students, the retention rate for this population improved by nearly 7% over the University's average for similar students and met the overall retention rate of the University's general student population.

Practical implications – The outcomes of this project suggest that with careful, strategic planning, clear execution by facilitators and ongoing assessment of such interventions, student retention and, by extension, persistence to graduation should improve significantly enough to warrant strong, ongoing institutional commitment.

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.

Purpose – This case study outlines, and critically reflects upon, Aston University's 10 year journey towards mainstreaming widening participation. It begins in 1999 when the institution had no Widening Participation Strategy or infrastructure, working towards the current position of a strategic and institution-wide focus on student diversity and inclusion. Critical reflection on this journey details key enabling factors, challenges faced and suggestions for practice.

Methodology/approach – The case study outlines the underlying principles of Aston's approach to widening participation. Key principles include a full student life cycle and evidence-based practice approach, inclusive practice for all, and staff development. These principles are illustrated through examples of practice such as the Student Peer Mentoring Programme, the Learning Development Centre and the Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Practice.

Findings – Practice has been informed through seeking to better understand the changing needs of an increasingly diverse student profile. Diversity goes beyond the student groups targeted through widening participation programmes.

Practical implications – The case study reflects on challenges and enabling factors for the management of change, and suggests practice which may be transferable to other HE institutions.

Originality/value of paper – Aston has adopted a full student-life cycle from outreach work with primary schools, through to pre-entry and transition support, learner development, and on to graduation and employment. This is in contrast to the more predominant focus within the HE sector, upon the early stages of the student life cycle. Aston University has also embedded widening participation within strategies for learning and teaching, and for employability.

Purpose – This chapter highlights the general direction that Australian Universities are headed in Broadening Participation, including the impact of The Bradley Review of Higher Education (2008). More specifically, the chapter explains how La Trobe University has interpreted the review and set about a whole of university approach to delivering equality of opportunity.

Approach – Social justice and equity have always been core values of La Trobe University. The University aims to increase the diversity of the student cohort by engaging with communities through outreach and promoting collaboration which facilitates the increased participation of under-represented groups in higher education. The University also supports successful academic outcomes through the effective provision of services and a broad student experience.

La Trobe University promotes and maintains a learning environment which provides opportunities for engagement, is inclusive, healthy, socially vibrant, accessible and free from discrimination.

Practical implications – This chapter demonstrates how policy, training and small programmes and projects in various departments throughout the University add to the emerging larger picture of success in creating an environment that embraces diversity and the successful participation of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Value of paper – Australian universities are cognisant of the global issues faced by the higher education sector and believe that some of our experiences in addressing the issues may be of value to the wider international community of tertiary education.

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.

Purpose – To offer an account of widening participation practice at the University of Bedfordshire as a case study of how higher education can approach ‘access’ and embed practice across the institution. The paper explores the contribution of widening participation policy and practice to the development of the University.

Approach – The paper considers the part played by widening participation policy and practice in the development of the University from the organisations out of which it has grown; it provides a brief overview of some of the ways in which the University pursues and fulfils its widening participation objectives; and it offers some reflection on the prospects for widening participation in the context of new arrangements for funding students and higher education institutions.

Findings – The paper provides some outline evidence for the success of its practice and for its mainstreaming across the organisation and offers some reflection on areas where further work is required to develop the University's strategies and processes.

Originality/value of the chapter – The paper provides an account of a UK university with a particularly strong commitment to widening participation, which it has sustained throughout a period of growing reputation and increasing pressure to adopt a more ‘traditionally’ selective approach to recruitment and participation. Widening participation remains a core value within the university and continues to be one of its defining characteristics.

Purpose – The case study described here showcases the way in which the University of South Australia (UniSA), an institution with a long history of being at the forefront of educational opportunity for all and with equity principles embedded in its founding legislation, has responded to the mainstreaming of widening participation and engagement. It does so by focussing particularly on the Foundation Studies access education programme, the cornerstone of the University's widening participation strategy for adults (although in Australia the vast majority of university entrants are aged 18 years and above and, therefore, by definition, categorised as adults).

Approach – We provide an overview of the development and structure of the Foundation Studies programme, the national and institutional contexts in which it operates, and key characteristic of students who undertake the programme. We also report on participation and success rates and briefly describe how successful access education students gain admission to undergraduate study.

Social implications – UniSA's approach to equity and widening participation provides an effective means of redress for people who have experienced educational disadvantage. It does so not merely by providing access but by also actively preparing them for future academic success. That success in turn builds social capital – serving a wider and increasingly pertinent imperative in today's global market economy.

Value of chapter – The case study described presents what has proven to be a viable and effective model, one which suggests strongly that socio-economic and educational disadvantage can be overcome and that ‘second chance’ does not imply ‘second rate’.

In the Netherlands, the route to higher education is not equally accessible for all (ethnic) groups. In this chapter, we focus on the transition from senior vocational education (MBO) to higher vocational education (HBO). Four focus group sessions of professional representatives from both MBO and HBO in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague (a total of 53 people) were held to examine the transfer policy measures and possibilities for improvements. The focus groups showed that most transfer projects are related to students themselves (the academic/utilitarian approach). More projects need to focus on the education itself (the transformative approach). It also is recommended to establish a transfer-infrastructure in each region, both to improve the quality of transfer and to promote study success of all (ethnic) groups.

Purpose – To raise awareness of Supporting Professionalism in Admissions Programme's (SPA's) development of the concept of the applicant experience strategy and the use of contextual data to support good practice in widening access and fair admissions.

Design/methodology/approach – SPA worked with Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), HEI groups and funding agencies through visits, discussions, desk-based research and literature reviews to develop an evidence base. Definitions and preliminary findings from SPA's review and analysis were released to HEIs in stages throughout 2009 and 2010 for the formative production of good practice.

Findings – The research and analysis of the information gained from the institutions and other stakeholders enabled SPA to develop the applicant experience strategy for the benefit of institutions and potential students and has enabled SPA to develop principles for the use of contextual data. This was shared with HEIs enabling them to develop and enhance what they do in these areas.

Originality/value – The applicant experience strategy is an original concept developed by SPA as there was no comprehensive research on this in the United Kingdom. It is the precursor to the student experience, which has had much more coverage. The use of contextual data while not new has been taken to a new level United Kingdom wide through the work of SPA. Both these areas of SPA's work support institutions working on widening access, admissions and transition into higher education to enhance professionalism and good practice and to aid retention.

Purpose – This case study explores how higher education institutions can help develop the social and cultural capital of students who come from non-traditional backgrounds. It aims to examine how selective performing arts institutions can ensure that they widen participation and develop their student body to represent the social make-up of the United Kingdom, when there is such strong competition for places and real focus on quality.

Methodology/approach – It is a case study, which simply illustrates the practices and policies for widening participation (WP) at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA).

Findings – There are no real findings as it is not a research project

Social implications – It discusses how social and cultural capital can have an effect on the progression of WP students and how access to such capitals can support their progression to higher education.

Originality/value of paper – It is an original case study about the LIPA.

Purpose – This chapter aims to provide an overview of the use of strategic enrolment management at DePaul University in Chicago.

Design/methodology/approach – A case study approach is used to provide an analysis of strategic enrolment management (SEM) and its particular use at DePaul University in the context of the university's long-standing commitment to student access.

Findings – As the United Kingdom moves to a more market-based system of higher education, universities may need to pay closer attention to strategic enrolment management concepts and practices. While enrolment management has been criticised for reflecting a wider movement toward ‘marketisation’ in higher education, the experience at DePaul University in Chicago indicates that SEM has played an important role in clarifying the university's commitment to student access during a period of environmental and institutional change.

Originality/value – This chapter sets DePaul's experience within the wider development of SEM in the United States and illustrates some of the ways in which enrolment managers at the university have been able to balance a mission-based commitment to student access with other institutional goals and priorities.

At the Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium), acknowledgment of prior experiential learning (APEL) is conceived as a tool to widen participation. We describe the initiatives set up to allow under-qualified, experienced job seekers to access higher education through the APEL process: a network involving the regional offices in charge of employment policies, the universities themselves, but also institutions in charge of education for social advancement and an integrated approach to offer to ‘APEL candidates’ an adequate support to contribute towards their academic success.

We discuss the interaction between the university and those APEL candidates and, therefore, the efficiency of all those initiatives. We studied the admission files and conducted a series of interviews with APEL students. We show that the inclusion of those specific students is a real pedagogical and institutional challenge. Moreover, the institutional message clearly affects the interaction between APEL students and the university. It is, therefore, necessary to develop a clear institutional message on widening participation that could embrace all institutional initiatives and highlight their common goal to increase their chances of success.

This chapter explores strategies for engaging students in the first year of university study. It draws on a national study of the first year experience in Australia and proposes a model of student engagement, highlighting the multi-faceted nature of the construct. A holistic student life cycle approach to student engagement is proposed as the basis for transforming learning experiences in the first year of university study. This approach includes consideration of the role played by pre-arrival engagement opportunities, the importance of engagement with institutional cultures, practices and communities, along with engagement with disciplinary contexts and cultures. A whole-of-institution approach to student engagement is argued, along with the importance of focussing on shared responsibilities for learning.

Purpose – Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) developed learning communities incorporating a first year seminar to serve all entering students in their first semesters of university study to increase student academic achievement and persistence.

Methodology/approach – The first year seminars are taught by an instructional team of faculty member, academic advisor, student mentor, and librarian. There is an instructional template for the more than 150 sections of the seminar taught each fall across – academic units rather than a common syllabus. The seminar is often coupled with writing, communication, psychology, or other general education course with students in a cohort group learning together across courses.

Findings – Program evaluation results consistently show a 9% positive impact on retention when comparing student outcomes for participants vs. nonparticipants, controlling for background characteristics.

Research limitations/implications – This structured approach serving nearly all entering students as a required course reinforces the importance of mandating interventions on a large scale, in a context of planning and improvement.

Practical implications – The institution developed the program over 20 years, and revisions to the program have been based on program evaluation. Careful attention to experiences before the learning communities (orientation programs in the summer and bridge programs just before the beginning of the academic year) and after the learning communities when the students move to their second semesters of study is critical.

Social implications – Approximately half the students in the learning communities are first generation college students and approximately half are low income students. This intervention has been central to the university's context of widening participation in higher education.

Purpose – This case study describes the Trinity Inclusive Curriculum (TIC) strategy, which aims to embed inclusion within Trinity College Dublin (TCD) through the creation of an online application for self-evaluating the inclusivity of academic practices, and a supporting resource website.

TIC arose in response to the additional needs arising from increasing diversity within TCD, resulting from national and institutional policies aiming to widen participation in higher education.

Approach – TIC involved three phases.

Phase I reviewed the academic environment within TCD, primarily through a student survey. Following this review, TIC developed a draft teaching and learning self-evaluation tool, and piloted it within 12 TCD courses in phase II. Pilots involved stakeholder feedback (staff and student), resource review, classroom observation, completion of the draft tool and engagement with the resulting action report. Following the pilot, TIC created an online version of the tool.

Phase III is underway, and seeks to embed this tool within TCD policies and processes, and to promote its use elsewhere.

Findings – Extensive student feedback has shown that there are common barriers for all students. Common themes include difficulties finding information, and difficulties arising from a lack of coordination between academic, administrative, and service areas. The TIC self-evaluation tool allows staff to reflect on, evaluate, and respond to issues causing student difficulty.

Value – TIC is working to embed this tool within TCD and elsewhere. Through the TIC tool, TCD, and other participating institutions can continue to enhance the inclusivity of their academic environments.

In this chapter we present a case study about a bottom-up approach in creating the strategy and action plan for the mainstream implementation of blended learning in one Faculty at a higher education institution in Croatia, and the implications this has on the access and retention of students from equity groups. In previous research the target groups were identified, and the next step was to investigate the specific needs of those groups of students, focusing on creating an effective learning environment. Taking an evidence-informed approach, institutional experts, management and staff developed a strategic framework, covering ICT support, the E-learning system and curriculum development to meet the specific needs of these students. One of the very important goals of mainstreaming widening participation at the Faculty of Organization and Informatics (FOI) is to create an effective learning environment for all students. E-learning is recognized as an important tool in making learning and education more accessible to all students at the FOI. The FOI's Strategy for E-learning contributes to this objective and since FOI is one of the leading faculties in the implementation of E-learning at the University of Zagreb, FOI's approach to E-learning is exemplary within the institution, and it has been taken into account when University of Zageb Strategy was being developed and implemented.

This case discusses a programme to develop areas of ‘education strengths’ in the curricula of a foreign branch campus of an Australian university. The programme may be seen as a means for organisational change, enabling academic staff to define their own areas of speciality and foci for curricula development and stimulating them to greater levels of ownership, interest and enthusiasm in their teaching. This program enrichens the curriculum by ‘localising’ it for the student cohort, it thus impacts positively on student retention.

Purpose – This chapter argues that institutions should take a strategic, integrated approach to enable all students to progress successfully beyond their first degree, to additional education or training or to the labour market.

Methodology/approach – The chapter reviews the literature about the progression of students from equity groups to the labour market and postgraduate study and the explanations for lower rates of success. The remainder of the chapter explores what institutions in England are doing to facilitate equality of outcomes for graduates from equity groups, based on analysis of the Widening Participation Strategic Assessments (WPSAs). Each WPSA was coded, and query reports were read and re-read to identify common approaches and themes.

Findings – Literature finds that graduates from diverse backgrounds and equity groups have poorer progression outcomes than other students. The WPSAs show that the majority of institutions are addressing employability but not progression to postgraduate study. On the basis of mainstream approaches to engaging students and developing their employability, the chapter presents a seven-point strategic approach to enhancing the progression and success of graduates from a diverse student body.

Research limitations – There are limitations associated with analysis of the WPSAs and that there is so little consideration of progression to postgraduate study.

Practical implications – This chapter proposes that institutions adopt an integrated and strategic approach to enhancing the progression and success of students.

Social implications – This approach addresses progression inequalities.

Originality/value – This chapter provides original insights into progression to postgraduate study for diverse students.

This study explores the role of social capital in the development of employability skills and attributes of first-generation undergraduate students in a business school.

The research, based on the reflections of graduates, examines the impact of social capital on participation in higher education and investigates the conditions within the learning environment, which enhance or inhibit the development of bridging and linking social capital, as students connect with networks within the institution and with the wider business community.

The findings suggest that the ability to recognise and activate bridging and linking social capital is an important determinant of employability. The analysis illustrates that when students have opportunities to connect with and work within a variety of networks, they build a range of employability skills and capabilities, particularly the interpersonal and social skills valued by employers.

Students, who are confident and have the necessary skills to participate in a variety of networks within the immediate environment and with the wider business community, are not only able to access a greater range of resources but are more able to recognise the potential benefits that these activities have to offer. The reflections of the participants also illustrate that the skills and competencies that enable them to network effectively need to be developed deliberately. By supporting students in recognising the relationship between bridging and linking social capital and employability, and giving them the opportunity to reflect upon the achievement of interpersonal skills and affective capabilities, their understanding and acknowledgement of employability is enhanced.

Purpose – This chapter draws on the previous chapters and institutional case studies to identify and discuss the necessary conditions and facilitating factors which contribute to institutional transformation to engage a diverse student body.

Methodology /approach – This chapter is based on thematic analysis of the previous chapters and institutional case studies. It utilises national contextual information, details of changes undertaken and reflections on the process of change. The key ideas are illustrated by quotes from the case studies.

Findings – The following necessary conditions and facilitative factors are identified and discussed:i.Commitment to a transformational approachii.Sharing understanding and meaningiii.Institutional strategy for change: senior leadership, policy alignment, creating a facilitating infrastructure across the student lifecycle and co-ordinating changeiv.Engaging staff and creating an inclusive culturev.Developing students' capacity to engagevi.Taking an evidence-informed approachvii.Linking change to other institutional priorities and developmentsviii.An enabling policy and funding context

Research limitations – It is based on the chapters and case studies presented in this book rather than a wider analysis.

Practical implications – This chapter offers institutions insight into the conditions and factors that enable and smooth institutional transformation.

Social implications – This chapter is designed to support the promotion of social justice in higher education.

Originality/value – This chapter draws on international research and institutional examples and identifies common conditions and factors which contribute to managing change to engage a diverse student body. Its value is practical insights into change from an international perspective.

Purpose – This case study identifies, from a personal perspective, the essential conditions for institutional transformation that will ensure the effective mainstreaming of widening participation (WP).

Methodology/approach – This case study is a personal commentary reflecting on 10 years working as both a WP practitioner and an academic member of staff at Leeds Metropolitan University. The case study also draws on empirical research into WP policy and practice undertaken at the university between 2008 and 2009.

Findings – Research undertaken as part of the Action on Access programme ‘Mainstreaming and Sustaining Widening Participation in Institutions’ and as part of an institutional Quality Enhancement Audit found that whilst there were many examples of excellent WP practice, many staff were no longer sure what WP meant within the institution. In addition, whilst members of the management team felt that the institution still had a strong commitment to WP, other staff were less convinced. The research also highlighted that the relative incoherence in terms of WP definitions and practice meant that people were drawing solely on their own local and personal values and were blaming others when these peoples' practice was contradictory to their own.

Practical implications – The case study outlines the conditions needed to effectively mainstream and sustain WP, including establishing a ‘golden thread’ of WP that runs through all key policy and strategy documents across the university.

Social implications – Whilst the principles of mainstreaming WP are sound, strategies need to be put in place to ensure that actual practice is not in danger of privileging some students at the expense of others.

Purpose – This chapter addresses how pedagogical innovations can promote changes in the culture of an Academic institution. The overall aim is to develop pedagogical methods that are suitable for teaching and learning in a diverse environment across the institution and implementing these in the institution.

Methodology/approach – The project is organized as a cooperation between Centre for Educational Research and Development, the Faculty of Nursing at Oslo University College and The Police Academy. Members of the academic staff are engaged as part-time project workers and are co-responsible for developing a language and communication course for immigrants applying for HE. They are also responsible for rendering their knowledge and experiences visible to their colleagues.

Findings – The developmental project has revealed a great ignorance among the academic staff, when it comes to taking advantage of the diversity in tutoring. The academic staff generally is unable to notice and to make use of the resources in diversity among the students. They also have great difficulties in understanding Norwegian second-language students. Reluctance understanding that the linguistic minority students are in many cases caused by the feeling that the resources they are offering seems irrelevant and worthless in a Norwegian academic environment.

Research implications – The interfaculty cooperation has been mutual stimulating and contributed to an extended effect of the work. The project has resulted in an increased awareness of multicultural learning environments. In the wake of the project, a number of new projects have started up, and they are now linked to the main developmental project.

This case study explores the organisational culture at Edge Hill University (EHU), seeking to identify how practitioners operate to provide equitable opportunities for access and participation in community engagement and higher education.

EHU works within a governance model, where there is shared responsibility for the widening participation (WP) agenda. This is promoted across and within its three faculty structure of Education; Health; and Humanities, Management, Social and Applied Sciences (HMSAS) strengthened by the WP service. Innovative, collaborative and pro-active approaches to WP are encouraged with staff inspired to take ownership of decisions and have autonomy. This allows the freedom to engage in institutional and community projects for example, incorporating pre-entry experiences such as taster sessions, as well as post-arrival teaching, and providing access to guidance and student services.

There is no doubt that educationalists can play an instrumental role in the academic and personal development of students with whom they interact, this interaction is in part governed by the institutional culture. This may be empowering or disempowering both on them and the local and wider communities they serve. Social justice in education requires active work by the whole of the institution allowing ‘communities’ to change both within and out of the university, where environmental circumstances may negatively impact on shaping the learning journey (LJ) of students.

The study presents an argument which drives the WP agenda forward encouraging engagement of educationalists, policy makers, social justice activists and communities to collaborate in pushing forward innovative, flexible and pro-active ways to develop meaningful knowledge.

Purpose – The chapter reviews, compares and contrasts the experiences of two neighbouring universities, the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England, in the introduction, pursuit and institutional embedding of widening participation (WP) policies and programmes.

Methodology/approach – Comparative analysis of, and commentary on, the historical and ongoing experiences of the two universities' WP activities.

Findings – Contextual differences in the missions and roles played by the two universities inevitably mean their experiences have different underlying logics, but in terms of the practical drivers at work and outcomes more subtle similarities are also evident.

Practical implications – Making direct comparisons between the parallel experiences of universities sharing a common geographical setting can be illuminating, as can examples of their joint working and collaboration. Other neighbouring universities could follow suit.

Social implications – The ‘takes’ on WP by different universities inevitably reflect the types of institutions they are and aim to be, but successful WP practices and policy embedding is not the prerogative of any particular university type.

Originality/value of paper – The direct inter-university comparison of WP policy offered here is rare within the literature.

Rashidah N. Andrews is an academic advisor in the College of Liberal Arts at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She earned an Ed.M. in higher education at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education and is currently a doctoral student in educational administration at temple. Before arrival at Temple, Rashidah spent three years as project manager for the Ethnic Minorities Student Achievement Grant (EMSAG) at Halesowen College in England, one year as director of College Retention at a non-profit in Philadelphia and two years as admission counselor at her alma mater. Her research interests include access, retention and persistence of low-income, first-generation students.

Cover of Institutional Transformation to Engage a Diverse Student Body
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International Perspectives on Higher Education Research
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