Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Widening participation aims and outcomes

an article by Kate Hoskins (University of Roehampton, UK) published in Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning Volume 14 Number 3 (Winter 2012/13)


This paper provides an overview of New Labour’s policy initiative to widen participation, and considers the consequences this policy has had for four non-traditional students, that is, ‘students from under-represented groups’ (Medway et al., 2003:3).

As a result of widening participation policy, a broader range of higher education institutions (HEIs) have actively sought to enrol larger numbers of those they have historically tended to exclude: the working classes, women, mature students, those from minority ethnic groups and those with disabilities (Burns, Sinfield and Holley, 2006). The shift in emphasis away from Access programmes as a route into higher education for those traditionally excluded to the New Labour government push for widening participation across the sector has reshaped higher education, raising questions about what and who higher education is for.

Drawing on semi-structured interviews with four white, male working-class students attending a new ‘post-1992’ university, this paper considers their attempt to access educational capital and some of the struggles and challenges they have encountered in the process.

The paper asks if changes to education (such as widening participation ostensibly as part of a move to increase social justice) changed the status quo, giving voice, stake and power to those traditionally excluded from those realms.

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