Magazine article Times Higher Education

Points to Consider in Widening Participation

Magazine article Times Higher Education

Points to Consider in Widening Participation

Article excerpt

The article "Poorer students present 'financial risk' " (9 January) provides a thought-provoking insight into the link between retention and low socio-economic status. It focuses on higher education institutions' relative success in keeping their undergraduates and on the financial cost faced by those institutions that have poor retention levels. A couple of rather important concerns are ignored.

The first concern is the high average level of dropout, at above 7 per cent. This should not be dismissed as being related to a student's financial situation. Students come to university from schools that offer a high level of pastoral support and contact time with teachers. Should universities be doing more during the first year of a degree to soften the transition between secondary and tertiary education?

The second concern is the impact that giving up has on the individuals themselves. A great deal of effort and funds are put into widening participation programmes to encourage those from less advantaged backgrounds to take a degree. The decisions these young people are asked to make - economic, social, emotional, academic - are huge. …

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