Widening participation

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Widening participation in higher education is a major component of government education policy in the United Kingdom and Europe. It consists of an attempt to increase not only the numbers of young people entering higher education, but also the proportion from under-represented groups (those from lower income families, people with disabilities and some ethnic minorities).

In this way it is hoped to redress the inequalities in participation between social classes. Widening participation is one of the strategic objectives of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). The issue of widening participation became a political issue after the Laura Spence Affair which hit the headlines in 2000 and after the 2003 University of Bristol admissions row which concerned alleged biases in favour of the state sector.

HEFCE is pursuing this policy through a number of measures, including the payment of financial incentives to universities and by funding the Aimhigher programme.

This policy is linked to the previous Labour government's target of increasing participation in higher education to 50% by 2010.

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Further reading[edit]

  • Young participation in higher education by Mark Corver HEFCE 2005/03
  • Review of widening participation research: addressing the barriers to participation in higher education, Report to HEFCE by University of York, Higher Education Academy and Institute for Access Studies, July 2006 [1]
  • How to think about widening participation in UK higher education, Report to HEFCE by Professor Sir David Watson, July 2006 [2]
  • Review of widening participation research: addressing the barriers to participation in higher education, Report to HEFCE by University of York, Higher Education Academy and Institute for Access Studies, September 2006 [3]

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