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Closing The Equity Gap In Higher Education – New Analysis On The Challenges Ahead


At a time when the Government is aiming to increase the number of students in higher education (HE), a new book offers an analysis of the impact of higher tuition fees for students from low-income families and looks at how HE is organised in terms of progression for students from “alternative” entry routes.

Closing the Equity Gap: the impact of widening participation strategies in the UK and the USA - published by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) and edited by Geoff Layer, Pro Vice Chancellor at the University of Bradford - focuses on how a more socially inclusive higher education system might be secured. It explores the challenges facing higher education as the student financial support model increasingly relies on higher fees and delayed debt.

The book is a series of papers developed by eminent academics focussing on such issues as the economic impact of tuition fees on access in the USA; the Scottish experience in broadening participation through short-cycle courses; the role of the Further Education college in providing HE in England; how college education and financial support operate in the USA; and the implications that broadening participation has for the learning and teaching strategy of universities.

Geoff Layer said, “Closing the Equity Gap provides a radical new look at the issues facing higher education in the UK and the USA. As both countries seek to widen participation so that those from low-income groups can benefit from higher education, they are faced with the dilemma of finance – becoming increasingly reliant on higher fees and delayed debt - and securing change within universities and colleges. The analysis - from some of the key policy makers in UK and USA higher education sectors - shows the progress made, reflects on the problems raised and focuses on the need to shift the paradigm from thinking merely about participation in higher education to focussing on the success of that participation.”

He ended, “If the student community is changing, and we have moved from an elite system of higher education where only a few participate, to a universal system where everyone is expected to be able to access HE, the key question is to what extent does higher education have to change its approach.”

Emma Banks | alfa
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