When we hear the word ‘education’, most of us (consciously or unconsciously) reach for the ideas of formal education, classrooms, teachers, certificates and authority. These are the easy and obvious stereotypes because they are most prominent in our cultural context. These are the measurable forms, and the ones which gain most funding opportunities because of their familiarity. Read more
George Wilson has worked in higher education for the last 14 years. In Edinburgh and Lothians, in both paid and voluntary positions, he has been involved in formal education as well as community education. With a particularly interesting view on the questions which should be asked surrounding widening participation and who it is benefiting, here his challenge shifts the issue from inside the institutional space to considering wider participation from the external perspective. Read more
Critical theoretical frameworks are particularly helpful in developing a conceptual framework of widening participation which is capable of addressing the complexities, misrecognitions and exclusions that play out in educational fields such as colleges and universities.
Continuities in wider participation have included struggles over access for particular social and cultural groups, notions of meritocracy and liberalism, concerns with fairness and social justice and attention to patterns of social exclusion and mobility. Read more
A context is needed to get a sense of the ways in which contemporary discourses of Widening Participation have emerged and have in turn shaped the discourses over who has the right to higher education, and who does not. This has become increasingly associated with the acceptance of the inevitably large amounts of debt after graduation. Read more