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Attracting diversity in student access and recruitment

Published: 24/05/2018

What are Scottish further and higher education institutions doing to tackle disadvantage and underrepresentation in student access across protected characteristics?


Are we making enough progress to address gender imbalances in Scottish post-16 education?

What does innovation in widening access look like for equality groups?

Over the past three years, 22 Scottish colleges and universities have participated in Advance HE’s Scottish Funding Council (SFC) funded Attracting Diversity project. Cross-functional teams within participating institutions have undertaken research and data analysis in order to understand the specific barriers faced by disadvantaged or underrepresented groups in relation to student access and recruitment. Each team used that data and research to inform an innovative plan of action to test out new positive action approaches to tackling barriers to participation in further and higher education.

Each project has been tailor made to respond to each local and institutional context. Examples of projects include:

  • creative schools outreach projects to encourage more female applicants into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects
  • collaborative approaches to increasing male participation into nursing and other care subjects through improved marketing strategies and single-sex open days
  • bespoke mentoring offer and links to industry partners for female engineering students
  • reviewing course names to challenge gender stereotypes within sports subjects
  • changing entry criteria to increase applications into physics and engineering from females and students from lower socio-economic backgrounds
  • working with local partners to improve participation of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic applicants into performing arts.

Attracting Diversity project teams have been monitoring and evaluating these initiatives and learned valuable lessons on what works (and what doesn’t). The time has come to share these lessons with the further and higher education sectors.

We will be showcasing each project with key findings and recommendations at our Festival of Learning on Tuesday 5 June at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh. This free event is open to all stakeholders interested in improving equality and diversity in student recruitment and access including senior managers, policy makers, equality and diversity practitioners, widening access teams, academics, students and sector agencies.

Programme highlights so far include:

  • an expert panel discussing “men into care” initiatives including hair, childcare and nursing
  • workshops on collaborative approaches and schools outreach work
  • exploration of how to build effective and sustainable interventions in a challenging context
  • an opportunity to contribute to ‘crowdsourcing the future’, ensuring progress is made in equality and diversity in student participation
  • input from Matson Lawrence, SFC, on Gender Action Plans and embedding sustainable approaches to equality in student access
  • interactive exhibition stalls where you can have a go at STEM experiments and hear about Attracting Diversity projects through poster presentations.

Registration to the Festival of Learning is open – secure your place by registering online.

We look forward to seeing you there.