An important new report on some of the biggest challenges in widening participation.
The report focuses on areas with the lowest HE progression rates: between 8% and 13% of 18- and 19-year-olds in these constituencies pursue a higher education course at a university or further education college, compared with 33% nationally.
The argument is about “embedding” partnerships according to HEFCE:
Universities and colleges need to continue to develop a strong understanding of the wider communities in which they operate in order to develop more focused and relevant interventions which will reach young people from lower social class backgrounds, according to a report published today. The report, Young participation in Higher Education in the Parliamentary constituencies of Birmingham Hodge Hill, Bristol South, Nottingham North and Sheffield Brightside, commissioned by HEFCE in 2005 consolidates the findings of four in-depth case studies which aimed to explore the factors that might lie behind the very low rates of young participation in higher education in those parliamentary constituencies.
The summary report highlights the need for universities and colleges to consider how their strategies to widen participation can be embedded directly within the educational provision for the constituencies in which they operate. While acknowledging that higher education institutions (HEIs) cannot tackle all the issues facing these communities in isolation, the report recommends that institutions do need to have a strong, sustainable presence in low participation neighbourhoods and consider ‘ways in which they can make significant and measurable contributions to the social, educational and economic transformation of these areas’.
See also detailed piece in the Guardian.