Centre for Research in Education Inclusion & Diversity (CREID)

Higher Education, Funding and Access: Scotland and the UK in International Perspective (31 August 2017)

These dual, and sometimes competing, pressures must be understood within the context of globalisation. Developed countries generally see higher education as a way of building knowledge economies, leading to debates about the proportion of students who should be qualified to tertiary level; the division of costs between the individual student and the state; the most effective ways of increasing participation by students from non-traditional backgrounds; and the intended and unintended consequences of widening access initiatives. As noted by Rizvi and Lingard (2010), globalisation is not a one-directional force, but is accompanied by movements to reinforce the local and the regional, often driven by anxiety about the rapid pace of change and a perceived loss of identity. This seminar explores the way in which the twin pressures of globalisation and localisation play out in the field of higher education and in specific debates on fees regimes, access and culture.

Broad themes and questions

  • How should the costs of higher education be distributed between the student, their family and the state?
  • What are the implications of shifts in tuition fee regimes?
  • Is higher education in the developed world a driver of social justice or growing inequality?
  • What are the best means of achieving fairer access?
  • What challenges are encountered by non-traditional students and how can they be supported?

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Chairs: Professor Lyn Tett & Professor Jim Gallacher

Biographies of speakers and chairs

Morning sessions - Chair: Professor Jim Gallacher

09.30 – 09.45 Refreshments and registration
09.45 – 10.00

Welcome and introduction to the day

Professor Sheila Riddell, University of Edinburgh

10.00 10.30

Widening access and tuition fees: What lessons can be learnt from the English experience?

Dr Gill Wyness, London School of Economics & Institute of Education, University College London

10.30 – 11.00

Higher fees, higher debts: Unequal graduate transitions and outcomes in England? 

Dr Katy Vigurs, University of Derby; Dr Steven Jones, University of Manchester; Dr Diane Harris, University of Manchester

11.00 – 11.30

The implications of HE funding and provision differences for students crossing borders in the UK

Dr Susan Whittaker, University of Edinburgh

11.30 – 11.45 Tea and coffee
11.45 – 12.15

Proportionate universalism: Understanding Welsh higher education policy in a wider UK context

Lucy Hunter Blackburn, University of Edinburgh

12.15 – 12.45

Widening access and target setting: can social audit be used to promote social justice?

Professor Sheila Riddell, University of Edinburgh

12.45 – 13.30 Lunch

Afternoon parallel sessions - Chairs: Professor Lyn TettProfessor Jim Gallacher

13.30 – 14.00

Widening access to higher education: balancing supply and demand in Ireland

Professor Emer Smyth, Economic and Social Research Institute Dublin (Chair: Professor Lyn Tett)


Widening access to higher education in Sweden: changing political ideologies, changing tactics?

Dr Elisabet Weedon, University of Edinburgh (Chair: Professor Jim Gallacher)

14.00 – 14.30

Widening participation policies and outcomes in Germany

Professor Andrea Óhidy, University of Education Freiburg (Chair: Professor Lyn Tett)


Higher education funding and student activism in Quebec: Le printemps érable and its aftermath

Professor Marie-Aurélie Thériault, University of Montreal (Chair: Professor Jim Gallacher)

14.30 - 14.40 Break
14.40 - 15.10

Widening access and retention in Australia

Professor Trevor Gale, University of Glasgow (Chair: Professor Jim Gallacher)


Finding a fit? The experiences of students from less advantaged backgrounds in an elite US university

Dr Katherine Friend, Nottingham Trent University (Chair: Professor Lyn Tett)

15.10 – 15.40

School curriculum and social inequalities in access to selective higher education institutions: Scotland and the US in comparison

Professor Cristina Iannelli, University of Edinburgh (Chair: Professor Sheila Riddell)

15.40 16.00

Summing up of the day

Joint discussants: Professor Lyn Tett & Professor Jim Gallacher

Aug 31 2017 -

Higher Education, Funding and Access: Scotland and the UK in International Perspective (31 August 2017)

This seminar explores the way in which developed countries are attempting to reconcile efforts to widen access to higher education with the need to develop a fair and sustainable system of student funding.

Rooms B1.11-1 to B1.11-3, The Outreach Centre, 9C Holyrood Road, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 8FP