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Widening participation strategic assessments

Institutions are now requested to submit strategic assessments of their widening participation activity.

Widening participation

Widening access and improving participation in higher education are a crucial part of our mission and form one of our strategic aims. Our aim is to promote and provide the opportunity of successful participation in higher education to everyone who can benefit from it. This is vital for social justice and economic competitiveness.

Widening participation addresses the large discrepancies in the take-up of higher education opportunities between different social groups. Under-representation is closely connected with broader issues of equity and social inclusion, so we are concerned with ensuring equality of opportunity for disabled students, mature students, women and men, and all ethnic groups.

We work with higher education institutions and other organisations to raise aspirations and educational attainment among people from under-represented communities to prepare them for higher education, ensure success on their programme of study, improve their employment prospects and open possibilities for postgraduate study, and give them opportunities to return to learning throughout their lives.

Summary of priorities for 2006-11 as set out in our strategic plan.

We have recently published a request for higher education institutions and directly funded further education colleges to submit widening participation strategic assessments. We have also launched a grant programme to research, develop and evaluate institutional practice relating to links between higher education institutions, schools, colleges and academies.

Enquiries for or about the Widening Participation Team should initially be addressed to Carmen Brown, tel 0117 931 7215, e-mail Alternatively, higher education institutions may contact their HEFCE higher education policy adviser.

A-Z of widening participation topics

Last updated 21 January 2009