The Office for Fair Access has called on universities and colleges to make fundamental changes in their approaches to widening participation to bring about a step change in access to higher education.
OFFA commissioned Professor Liz Thomas to work closely with various HE providers to produce the report titled: ‘Understanding a whole institution approach to widening participation’.
Professor Liz Thomas said:
“It has long been recognised that a whole institution approach is the most effective way to increase access, improve success and promote the progression of students from non-traditional and under-represented backgrounds in higher education’
This project sought to improve understanding of what a successful ‘whole institution approach’ to widening participation looks like. It aimed to:
- Enable OFFA to provide greater clarity and guidance to universities and colleges about how to develop and sustain such an approach
- Improve understanding of the most effective approaches to widening participation
- Support universities and colleges to be more evidence-led in their approaches to improving access
The overall goal of this project was to improve understanding around how a whole-institution approach is understood, realised and sustained in different contexts, so that universities and colleges can develop and implement effective ways to maximise the potential benefit of their widening participation work.
Professor Les Ebdon, Director of Fair Access to Higher Education said:
‘Participation in higher education is a complex issue, and I have always said that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving fair access. I advocate the whole institution approach precisely because it is a way to recognise the complexity of the issues we face, and to tackle them on every front.’
As part of this project, OFFA published the following (click to access):
- A final report outlining the background to this research, the methodology and theoretical approach, findings and recommendations. Including evidence from the case studies and guidance about how to implement changes in your own context
- A summary report with recommendations providing an accessible overview of the research
- An implementation and evaluation guidance and toolkit designed to be quick references for those seeking to develop a structure and culture of widening participation across their institutions