Diversity in Higher Education: Who needs to Join the conversation?

Gerald A. Lerpinère, Terry Lansdown, Susan Jane Cowan, Sara Dalzel-Job

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


LEAPS is a partnership between schools, universities, local authorities and Skills Development Scotland. The programme seeks to advise, encourage and inform potential applicants considering higher education. It provides impartial advice, raises awareness regarding widening access, and challenges assumptions regarding admissions criteria.
In 2016 a paper was presented at the 25th EAN Conference reviewing the programme’s progress over the previous 20 years in facilitating widening access. Additionally, initial findings from a programme evaluation were presented. This paper provides an update summarising findings from the project. In outline, tracking of students from LEAPS to University was highly effective, school exit grades were found to be predictive of degree outcome, and LEAPS students could not be differentiated from non-LEAPS students by exit qualification. However, with respect to the Strand 4 theme of the conference, ‘who needs to join the conversation?’, the paper will additionally focus lessons learned concerning higher level outcomes. For example, structural and organisational questions for Higher Education institutions and policy makers; seeking to evaluate widening access projects.
LEAPS is a multi-partnership organisation which requires agreement from its clients for tracking to take place. It was agreed by all partners that it was desirable for LEAPS to track all students to their final degree outcome. However this was not as straightforward as it appeared once an initial scoping exercise had been carried out. In the paper we demonstrate how relatively ordinary legislation and policy can make tracking a difficult exercise to carry out across many partners. We share what we have learned in the hope that others can learn from the difficulties encountered. We will also share the methodological framework for the evaluation.
As public and institutional funds are committed to many widening access endeavours, it is right and proper they receive regular and robust evaluation. If we are to be serious about widening access agenda, then we must understand not only how student enters higher education, but also what happens to them during their higher studies. To meet this commitment, investment should be made to support policy-driven longitudinal studies. However, to ensure these are effective, we must be aware of the potential limitations in process and policy between stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2017
Event65th European Access Network Conference
29/05/16 → 31/05/16
Dublin, Ireland
- Giessen, Germany
Duration: 19 Sept 201722 Dec 2017


Conference65th European Access Network Conference
29/05/16 → 31/05/16
Dublin, Ireland


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