Widening Participation (WP) at Edinburgh
An introduction to Widening Participation at The University of Edinburgh
We have developed practical guides and a Sharepoint site to help colleagues navigate what we do and how they can get involved.
WP recognises that not everyone has the same start in life nor the same opportunities to flourish and succeed educationally.
WP aims to address these educational inequalities and patterns of under-representation in Higher Education (HE). It recognises how transformative a university degree can be for the individual and more widely its impact on social mobility within our society.
There are many barriers, which can affect a person’s aspirations and trajectory in life including social, financial, cultural, or geographical. WP works to raise aspiration towards HE and offer support to remove those obstacles. So that individuals, regardless of their background, can make informed choices about their future built on their own ambitions and potential and fully pursue them.
The University of Edinburgh has long been passionately committed to and taken a lead in WP, pioneering many different types of access programmes and best practice, including the Lothians Equal Access Programme for Schools (LEAPS) and Pathways to the Professions in the 1990s, which are now embedded across the sector.
We deliberately use widening participation rather than widening access, as our commitment continues long after getting into Edinburgh, providing support throughout the student journey and beyond.
This is why the University's WP Strategy 2018-2021 is a university-wide endeavour and includes a holistic four-stranded approach encompassing the full student lifecycle.
Alongside our broader initiatives around equity and access for all we work specifically with the Scottish Funding Council to develop a three year Outline Agreement (refreshed annually) which is our public statement, and includes our commitment to widening access as well as other areas such as employability and research.
WP students are individuals, their academic potential and experiences are unique to them, regardless of their background. So while we list these cohorts and refer to them as groups, we acknowledge that the WP tag is just one of many varied markers / cohorts a WP individual might occupy and one that they may not identify with or even be aware of.
|Primary and Secondary school pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds: based on area deprivation measures such as SIMD*, those in receipt of free school meals, those from schools of low progression to HE, and low attaining schools|
|Adult learners and returners to education studying the SWAP Access course, Higher Nationals at College and the Centre for Open Learning Access Course (students aged 21 or over are typically referred to as mature students)|
|Vulnerable or more marginalised groups of students such as young carers, young people in care or care leavers, learners with refugee / asylum seeker status, estranged students|
|Students from under-represented groups, some with protected characteristics such as disabled learners, those from ethnic minority backgrounds, and cohorts where there are gender imbalances (e.g. men into education, women into computer science)|
* Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD)