The Impact Of Widening Participation Upon Education In This Country

820 words - 3 pages

Widening participation is a key government strategy in which students are taken in fromsocial groups or communities that have not traditionally entered higher education. Whilstmost institutes will welcome a new source of students, they recognise that these studentsare likely to have different learning skills/expectations and research suggests they arelikely to need additional support if they are to succeed. As a key government target is toimprove retention rates, there has to be a commitment to ensuring good studentprogression. The main aim for the programme is to have 50% of 18-30 years olds inhigher education. (Loughborough University, 1).The main aim is categorized into three sublimations:1)To make measurable progress towards widened participation, without increasingstudent non-completion, while maintaining standards of excellence and recognising andbuilding on institutional strengths and diversity.2)To stimulate new sources of student demand and adjust supply accordingly.3)To improve opportunities for all students through lifelong learning.Departments will need appropriate learning, teaching and assessment strategies as wellsupport systems to deal with the increasing diversity of the student intake. For examplethe Engineering academics, at Loughborough university, have already had to deal withthe declining maths skills of students. It is clear that widening participation should notequate to a lowering of standards. Higher education institutes will have to face theincreasing challenge of educating an increasingly diverse student group effectively whilstmaintaining the output standards that the profession demands.Widening participation is not about reducing standards. The Higher Education FundingCouncil for England aim to sustain standards by enabling higher education institutes witha particularly strong commitment to widening participation to build and strengthen theiractivities, by ensuring that they receive sufficient funding to cover the additional costs ofthese and of supporting student success. In 2003-04 the Higher Education FundingCouncil increased the total allocation to institutions for widening participation andprovision for disabled students to $265 million. In 2005-06 they committed $282 million,and if funds are available they will seek to increase this in future years. (HEFCE, 2)Increased participation is not simply a matter of providing more places. The governmentwill have to work to increase demand for Higher Education, and to support improvedprogression from schools and further education into the sector. This is being tackled incollaboration with the Learning and Skills Council and other partners. Schools, collegesand Higher education institutes across England are working together to help raiseaspirations and attainment under the Aimhigher brand. (Aimhigher, 3)Foundation degrees are playing an important part both as the main vehicle for...

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