Access to higher education: how might this be achieved for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds?

Edward Sosu, Stephanie Mckendry, Lauren Smith, Ninetta Santoro, Susan Ellis

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There are significant social inequalities in access to higher education internationally. Students from the most disadvantaged households remain persistently under-represented (Jerrim, Chmielewski, & Parker, 2015), are less likely to enter higher education, and when they do, are more likely to go to further education college rather than university (OECD, 2015; Scottish Funding Council, 2015; Sosu & Ellis, 2014). As a result, governments, supranational organisations such as the EU, and global agencies like UNESCO have expressed ambitions to reduce educational inequality and improve access to higher education (EHEA, 2012; UNESCO, 2015). Several factors such as academic performance, subject choice at secondary school and low motivation have been documented to account for this gap (e.g., Iannelli, Smyth, & Klein, 2015; (Iannelli, Smyth, & Klein, 2015; Chowdry, Crawford, Dearden, Goodman, & Vignoles, 2013; Gorard & Smith, 2006).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2016
EventEuropean Conference on Educational Research 2016 - Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 22 Aug 201626 Aug 2017


ConferenceEuropean Conference on Educational Research 2016


  • widening access
  • access to higher education
  • higher education
  • socioeconomic disadvantage
  • social justice

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