Widening Access to Higher Education for Students from Economically Disadvantaged Backgrounds: What Works and Why?

Edward M. Sosu, Lauren N. Smith, Stephanie McKendry, Ninetta Santoro, Sue Ellis

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

1733 Downloads (Pure)


This report outlines what the national government and other stakeholders can do to reduce inequality in access to higher education in Scotland. It examines policy and programme interventions that widen access to higher education (HE) for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. While this study focuses specifically on access, it is important for equity in HE to also take account of attainment, retention, and labour market outcomes.
The report:• Explores the nature and consequences of inequality in access to HE for young people from higher and lower-income households in Scotland;
• Sets the scene by identifying policies that have sought to increase access to HE;• Examines whether there has been a significant change in access for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds over time;
• Summarises evidence about what works to widen access to HE; • Explores the nature of barriers to access to HE for young people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds; •Explores the impact of the Schools for Higher Education Programme (SHEP), a national outreach initiative, in helping school pupils to overcome some of these barriers;• Identifies what different stakeholder groups can do to increase access in Scotland.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationGlasgow
PublisherUniversity of Strathclyde
Commissioning bodyScottish Funding Council SFC
Number of pages66
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016


  • access to higher education
  • widening participation
  • equity
  • social inequality
  • social mobility
  • student retention

Cite this