The latest data on widening participation have been published by HESA.
The latest statistics show that of all UK domiciled, young, full-time, first degree entrants in 2014/15:
- 89.8% were from state schools. Two thirds of HE providers had over 90% state schools entrants.
- 33.0% were from NS-SEC classes 4-7. This proportion varied from 10.0% to 58.3% across HE providers.
- 11.4% were from low-participation neighbourhoods.
Interestingly when we look at our own university’s performance against WP by digging into the data tables, we see:
- we recruit 99.3% of our students from state schools or colleges, against a benchmark of 96.1%
- we recruit 47.6% of our students from SEC classes, 4,5,6 and 7 against a benchmark of 42,2%
- 23.3% of our students come from low participation neighbourhoods, against a benchamrk of 15.1%
Looking at the raw figures would appear to show that we do a good job in recruiting and supporting WP students.
For me the questions would be though – how could we support these students better? Are there ways in which by knowing the background of our students we could tailor our personal tutoring processes Are there ways in which we need to provide additional study skills support to allow students to maximise success and minimise the chance of failure or withdrawal? Are there ways in which we could help students develop the necessary social and cultural capital during their time at university, to be able to maximise their opportunities when entering employment?
Some of these are easier to solve than others.As we begin to expose better information to personal tutors, we will be able to provide more of teh personalised support necessary. Linking this to a technology based approach that could predict the necessary interventions would be the next step. The most tricky one will be that of developing the cultural capital needed to succeed. This is where know that the advantages that come from a non-WP background play out. We’ve tried to emphasise the need for this in our current Learning and Teaching Strategy. The tricky bit is going to be about the implementation, while not making value judgements about the relative worth of different sets of cultural or social mores.
This last one counts as a wicked problem!