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     Widening Participation in HE Project:

Widening participation in higher education: A quantitative analysis (2006 - 2007)

This project has now completed. Major outputs include:


Anna Vignoles (University of London, Institute of Education)
Alissa Goodman (Institute of Fiscal Studies)
Stephen Machin (London School of Economics)
Sandra McNally (London School of Economics)


Project Summary

The drive to widen participation in higher education in the UK is longstanding yet there is still remarkably little in the way of large-scale quantitative analysis of many aspects of this issue. This research aimed to develop a theoretically based quantitative empirical analysis of the higher education experience of different students, particularly disadvantaged students, ethnic minorities, women, those entering HE without A levels and mature students. The analysis was multi-disciplinary, building on economic, education and geographical theories of educational attainment, and provided a life course perspective to the issue of widening access to higher education. The research used a variety of data sets, largely longitudinal, and provided an international perspective to some issues. In addition, we proposed to combine two key UK administrative data sets to provide us with a uniquely comprehensive account of the educational attainment of an entire cohort of young people in the UK . Our objective was to determine at what age interventions aimed at widening access to higher education need to be focused? In particular, when do socio-economic, ethnic and gender gaps in educational attainment emerge? Do students from different family backgrounds and with differing prior attainment have different perceptions of their ability to benefit from higher education? For those who do enter HE, do they experience a very different form of higher education from their more advantaged peers, particularly in terms of subject studied and quality of institution? How does gender affect degree choice and how does this compare to other countries? Can we better understand these choices using economic models of educational investment? For students who do enter higher education, how do progression rates vary across different types of student and across different subjects and quality of institution?



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