Event details

Discourses and narratives of widening participation: historical and contemporary perspectives

Thursday, 03 May 2018

This seminar offers an opportunity for academics, practitioners and managers to reflect on and discuss theoretical, historical and applied aspects of widening participation as they interact and play out in the contemporary HE sector.  Three experienced actors in the field present new work encompassing tensions and debates in the framing of widening participation policies and practices; blurred boundaries between Widening Participation and Student Recruitment and an international comparison of outreach work in the UK and the US in the neoliberal context.  Delegates and presenters will work together in a guided discussion activity, to pull together the threads from these distinct but related papers and apply their understanding of the issues and implications to their own contexts. 


Dr Iain Jones, Newman University Birmingham.
Narratives of widening participation and why problematizing recurring dilemmas may matter

This presentation reports on how tensions and debates in the framing of widening participation policies and practices were constructed within fifteen interviews with national and institutional policy actors. These suggest widening participation and transition are not simply ‘problems’ to be managed but a set of recurring and complex dilemmas to be problematized. An explanatory typology, derived from a re-construction of narratives, is presented. Extended metanarratives, within the typology, are not a compromise or comparison between other restricted and reformist narratives. Instead, the typology and extended metanarratives of widening participation may offer a starting point in a re-casting of policy and practice.

Chris Bayes, Lancaster University
Blurred boundaries: Encouraging greater dialogue between Student Recruitment and Widening Participation

This presentation argues that within the past decade policy changes have brought Widening Participation and Student Recruitment functions closer together, but have failed to recognise that Student Recruitment and Widening Participation are separate entities, even if they have similar end goals.  It highlights similarities and nuanced differences between the two functions based on research with Student Recruitment professionals, Widening Participation practitioners, and their academic colleagues with the intention of stimulating further discussion on the role these functions play within the ‘student lifecycle’.  The presenter makes recommendations for a mutually beneficial approach towards the relationship between Student Recruitment, Widening Participation, and other professional services based on examples where these functions have been able to work in tandem towards institutional objectives.   

Dr Clare Gartland, University of Suffolk
UK and USA university STEM outreach practices: discourses and identities

This presentation focuses on findings of two studies, in the UK and USA, which explored the school outreach activities of university student ambassadors in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. In both countries there is an urgent need for universities to challenge entrenched patterns of progression in STEM subjects where women, poorer students and some minority groups are severely underrepresented. Student ambassadors play an important part in outreach activity and are widely seen as positive role models for school students because of their proximity in age and life stage.  This presentation presents similarities and differences in dominant discourses about student ambassador outreach activity in the USA and the UK. The dominance of neoliberal discourses of marketization and individualisation in both countries is highlighted. However, differences are also noted, particularly around accounts of pedagogical practices and motivation for engagement with activity. The studies raise urgent questions about how outreach activity is organised and which groups of young people are effectively reached.




Dr Iain Jones
is a Senior Lecturer in Education and Professional Studies at Newman University, Birmingham. His doctoral thesis was on widening participation in HE in England. Iain’s research interests are in widening participation and other dimensions of higher education policy and practice. In other current work, Iain is working on a collaborative research project on different dimensions of togetherness and ‘voice’ in relation to curriculum development in HE.

Chris Bayes works as the Outreach and Student Success Manager at Lancaster University.  Within this role, Chris is responsible for developing a ‘Student Lifecycle Approach’ across the Faculties of Arts & Social Sciences and the Lancaster University Management School.  Prior to taking up post at Lancaster in March, Chris worked in Widening Participation in Merseyside HEIs for nearly a decade.  He served as North West Regional Group Chair for HELOA (Higher Education Liaison Officers Association) between January 2012 and February 2015 and is currently a member of the NEON (National Educational Opportunities Network) Executive Committee within which he leads the network’s lobbying and advocacy arm.

Dr Clare Gartland is an Associate Professor in Education at the University of Suffolk where she leads the MA programme in Education Studies. She has a longstanding interest in equality and social justice in education and has worked extensively in the field of widening access to HE and school outreach. She has a particular interest in students' gendered, classed, ethnic and cultural identities and how these develop and intersect with the development of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and other subject identities. Clare's PhD focused on widening participation policy and practice and specifically the work of STEM student ambassadors and their outreach work with school age students. Following her work as a teacher and teacher trainer in Leicester and London, Clare has spent over 15 years researching and evaluating ways to support progression across educational sectors. This has included working closely with many different organisations including the Royal Academy of Engineering, Cambridge University, Bristol University, EngineeringUK, the Science and Learning Centre and Aimhigher. 

Network: Access and Widening Participation
Date(s): Thursday, 03 May 2018
Times: 11:00 - 16:00
Signup Deadline: Tuesday, 01 May 2018
Location: SRHE, 73 Collier St, London N1 9BE
Lunch Provided: Yes
Spaces Left: Places available
Prices: Members: Free, Guests: £60.00
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