A new paper led by academics at the Business School has reviewed research on Widening Participation (WP) at higher education institutions in Scotland, covering the period 1997–2021.
students raise hands outside

The paper, authored by Michelle O’Toole, Susan Dunnett, Mary Brennan, Thomas Calvard and Liudmila Fakeyeva, tracks how WP has become an established research domain over time, identifying the main areas of focus and suggesting important avenues for further research. The findings cover a broad range of topics, namely:

  1. factors affecting the decision to apply to university
  2. the transition from high school or further education into university
  3. contextualised admissions
  4. completion and level of attainment
  5. economic, social and cultural capital
  6. equality, diversity and inclusion

Existing research on WP has highlighted both progress and challenges regarding the transition, admission and attainment of WP students from diverse backgrounds. However, this review has revealed important gaps in understanding which remain around the lived experiences of WP students, and the more systemic institutional supports needed to support their journeys through university. Conducting a literature review in this area has highlighted important implications for policy and practice. In particular, policies must contribute to greater social mobility and socio-economic inclusion by creating environments that better fit the aspirations, needs and available capital of WP students.

The review is published in the British Educational Research Journal.

Read the review