Widening participation and equality
Widening participation strategies (WP) help underrepresented groups to access further or higher education to continue their education.
The traditional focus of WP is on socioeconomic disadvantage. However at their heart, both WP and equality and diversity are concerned with advancing equality of opportunity for disadvantaged groups throughout the student lifecycle. They both seek to address issues of access, retention or success for protected groups.
Historically, WP and equality and diversity have been delivered through separate strategies, but a more joined-up approach can take advantage of similar work and advance opportunity for students.
In 2012, ECU conducted research into how WP and equality and diversity work together in Scottish HEIs.
- Many WP initiatives reach and support access of protected groups, sometimes inadvertently.
- There are intersections between WP targeted groups and equality groups, for example there are overlaps with race and areas of deprivation.
- Equality is beginning to be incorporated into access, retention and success strategy though outcome agreements with the Scottish Funding Council.