Issues of access, social exclusion and widening participation dominate educational policy agendas and are a shared global challenge. Participation in higher education and adult lifelong learning activities can be a life-changing experience that opens up new opportunities. However, access remains unequal. People from lower socio-economic backgrounds, those living in the most deprived areas and people from minority ethnic groups are underrepresented.
In this book, we focus on how we can move the field of widening participation forward, paying specific attention to the theories and methods we can use to better understand and tackle the problem of underrepresented groups in post-compulsory education, and how individuals and institutions can be supported. We argue that in order to make sense of these issues, it is important to engage in both the findings of widening participation research and the theoretical foundations which underpin them. This way, alternative perspectives on the widening participation agenda and emerging research and policy can be explored from alternative perspectives.
This book was originally published as a special issue of Studies in Continuing Education.
Introduction: Special Issue: advancing theory and research in widening participation
Ellen Boeren and Nalita James
1.Beyond aspirations: deploying the capability approach to tackle the under-representation in higher education of young people from deprived communities
Laurie Anne Campbell and John H. McKendrick
2. Thinking with and beyond Bourdieu in widening higher education participation
Sue Webb, Penny Jane Burke, Susan Nichols, Steven Roberts, Garth Stahl, Steven Threadgold and Jane Wilkinson
3. Understanding adult lifelong learning participation as a layered problem
4. Systemic obstacles to lifelong learning: the influence of the educational system design on learning attitudes
Jeroen Lavrijsen and Ides Nicaise
5. Recognition of prior learning: the tensions between its inclusive intentions and constraints on its implementation
Linda Cooper, Alan Ralphs and Judy Harris
6. Accessing and assessing appropriate widening participation data: an exploration of how data are used and by whom
Natalie Holland, Ann-Marie Houghton, Jo Armstrong and Claire Mashiter