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Purpose – This case study outlines, and critically reflects upon, Aston University's 10 year journey towards mainstreaming widening participation. It begins in 1999 when…
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 – 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…
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.
This article analyses how higher education institutions (HEIs) have responded to government policy to increase the participation rates of students from lower social…
This article analyses how higher education institutions (HEIs) have responded to government policy to increase the participation rates of students from lower social classes through their admissions policies.
The article uses documentary evidence and interviews with institutional policy makers to examine HEI admissions policies and the rationale underpinning them.
This research found that admissions policies owed more to the nature of demand than attempts to widen participation. Old universities tend to ask for high A‐level grades and were sceptical about the value of vocational qualifications, but demonstrated a willingness to be more flexible where there was a low demand for courses. Less prestigious institutions tend to recruit more students from working class backgrounds because of the markets they were able to recruit in rather than because of their widening participation policies.
Whilst this study is based on a small number of cases, the evidence suggests that institutional admissions policies perpetuate the problem of working class disadvantage. The ability of HEIs to review and change their admissions policies is, however, constrained by the way government policy encourages a competitive and stratified system of higher education. This is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future, but those wanting equality of opportunity in HE need to continue to put pressure on institutional policy makers to develop more inclusive systems of admission.
By interviewing key institutional policy makers this article has been able to provide insights into the rationale behind HEI policy on admissions and widening participation.
Higher education (HE) in England and other parts of the United Kingdom (UK), traditionally and historically, has been dominated by privileged and powerful social groups…
Higher education (HE) in England and other parts of the United Kingdom (UK), traditionally and historically, has been dominated by privileged and powerful social groups. In recent decades, universities have opened their doors and encouraged participation by a diversity of learners including women, working class, minority ethnic groups and many others that might be deemed historically under-represented in HE. This movement came to be known as ‘widening participation’. I consider myself to be a product of the widening participation movement having returned to learn in 1994 after a 10-year break in education. However, providing access to participate is only the first step. For many HE students from under-represented groups, like the working class, the journey through the academy, while earning their degree, can be fraught with profound and difficult experiences. This chapter charts my own journey into HE as a student, and back into HE as an academic, with some equally fraught and profound experiences.
This chapter provides the context for understanding how English widening participation (WP) policy has interacted with the development of a marketised and expanding higher…
This chapter provides the context for understanding how English widening participation (WP) policy has interacted with the development of a marketised and expanding higher education (HE) system (the ‘dual imperative’ highlighted in the introductory chapter of this volume). It traces the intensification of market approaches in HE since 1997, examining how these interact with and become intertwined with evolving national WP policy concerns. Since 1997, WP for under-represented groups as a national policy aim has become firmly embedded in the activities undertaken by higher education providers (HEPs). Policy initiatives have moved between incentive and risk to encourage HEPs to address national and local inequalities of access and (later) student success and differential graduate outcomes. This chapter gives an overview of the key policy moments in this period and argues for how they have shaped the way in which the business of WP is enacted throughout the sector. It highlights how the business of WP drawn widely has become simultaneously a regulatory requirement, a way for institutions to differentiate themselves in the HE market and a key marker of institutional civic or social responsibilities. Situating this alongside the increasing focus on students and applicants as consumers, this chapter also begins to problematise the issues of collaboration and competition this creates.
The general context for this paper is access to higher education (HE) in the UK but the particular concern is participation. An important distinction is drawn between…
The general context for this paper is access to higher education (HE) in the UK but the particular concern is participation. An important distinction is drawn between access and participation. The heterogeneous characteristics of HE and the complex choice processes of applicants mean that a finer level of description and analysis is required which goes beyond aggregate measures of access and examines the extent and the nature of participation. Equality of opportunity provides the underpinning for this paper, access to HE is the starting point, the focus is on participation and the approach is empirical and pragmatic. In 2002, the target for access to UK HE was set at 50 percent, which requires attention to shift from broad measures of access towards detailed measures of participation; particularly when the agenda is one of social inclusion, and when certain groups within society are still significantly under‐represented and disadvantaged at the level of participation.
This chapter examines the development of an Entrepreneurship Education initiative (Triple E: Employability, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship) in the Higher Education…
This chapter examines the development of an Entrepreneurship Education initiative (Triple E: Employability, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship) in the Higher Education context. The initiative is further contextualised by a dynamic policy framework concerning widening access as a major priority for the Scottish Government. In addition, the initiative is based on innovation in contemporary pedagogical design and further policy drivers supporting the development of graduates with an enterprising mind-set and graduate attributes (articulated by employers) and interpreted by academics and public sector stakeholders as relevant for graduate labour market competitiveness. The chapter examines Entrepreneurship Education literature and presents a case study which examines pedagogical design and normative assumptions, participant progression, (students and staff) and the engagement of external stakeholders. The case study describes and analyses the key design principles for inclusive and accessible Entrepreneurship Education within the context of widening participation policy. A discussion on the practice of achieving inclusive and accessible Entrepreneurship Education explores intra-institution policy, drivers enablers and cultural and resource constraints. The chapter concludes with a summary of the design principles on inclusivity and accessibility in Entrepreneurship Education and discusses attempts to mitigate the challenges presented by a widening participation policy.
This chapter examines widening access to higher education in Sweden from the 1960s onwards and contrasts the influence of two different political ideologies — social…
This chapter examines widening access to higher education in Sweden from the 1960s onwards and contrasts the influence of two different political ideologies — social democracy and neo-liberalism. It provides an overview of the higher education system and student support. Sweden has made extensive use of alternative routes into higher education to enable access for those lacking traditional entry qualifications. These routes are outlined, changes over time are described and Sweden is compared to other European countries drawing on Eurostudent data. These data indicate that Sweden has made considerable advances in widening access through the use of alternative routes. However, the conclusion questions the extent to which current higher education policy, influenced by neo-liberalism, can lead to further progress.