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Access to Higher Education for Socio-economically Marginalised Groups: Indicators at Micro-Meso Levels

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Part of the Lifelong Learning Book Series book series (LLLB, volume 21)

Abstract

Some national reports highlight how particular third-level educational institutions place access central to their ethos, strategies and structures. Institutional strategies must also encompass change to the institutional culture itself through proactive outreach and dynamic ‘inreach’ for socio-economically excluded groups. In reconciling a balance between giving increased force to the imperative of widening access to education for marginalised groups, on the one hand, and university autonomy, on the other hand, the discourse tends to focus on incentives for institutions to improve access. It cannot be assumed that institutions are willing or aware of the need to develop outreach targeting underrepresented groups.

Some of the interviewees’ accounts across different countries recognise the limitations of an informational approach that is neither interpersonal nor tailored to the needs and experiences of the traditionally marginalised groups. More imaginative outreach approaches are discussed. A number of examples are highlighted of universities making their campus facilities available to marginalised groups in the evening and summertime to help break down cultural barriers, though across national reports there is little evidence of national level leadership to progress this issue. Some attitudinal resistance towards opening access to the university building is manifested through an argument for institutional autonomy. Yet these institutions usually receive state funding and many are in state ownership; incentives could be provided to facilitate such opening of access, including through performance agreements with Education Ministries. An emerging dimension to good practice in some national reports is university communication with community leaders. A logical expansion of a systems theory approach emphasising the need to foster transition between subsystems is the need for formal links between universities and NGOs representing marginalised groups. A comprehensive access strategy, which tackles deeply ingrained cultural barriers to participation in third-level education and education generally, requires engagement with cohorts of younger learners, even in primary school classes. With the exceptions of Scotland, Norway and Ireland, there is no evidence that this important structural strategic feature is taking place or planned to take place, based on the national reports. A range of preparatory admission courses are observed in a number of reports.

Keywords

Educational Institution Community Leader National Report Disadvantaged Group Institutional Culture 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Educational Disadvantage Centre St. Patrick’s CollegeDublin City UniversityDublinIreland

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