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Widening participation (WP) 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 University of Bristol admissions controversy in 2003, which concerned alleged biases in favour of the state sector.
This policy is linked to the previous Labour government's target of increasing participation in higher education to 50% by 2010.
- 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 
- How to think about widening participation in UK higher education, Report to HEFCE by Professor Sir David Watson, July 2006 
- 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 
- Role of the new Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS)
- Widening participation in higher education in England, Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, HC485 Session 2001-2002: 18 January 2002
- DfES White Paper: The future of Higher Education, 2003
- HEFCE: Widening participation
- DfES Higher Education
- AccessHE: Organisation supporting the progression of under-represented groups in London to Higher Education
- National co-ordination team for widening participation in higher education
- Pure Potential: Independent, national organisation which helps bright students from state schools and colleges with university and careers
- Into University: an education charity working to promote widerning participation.