Last week I took part as a panelist in a live chat on the Guardian website discussing how higher education institutes could improve access and diversity in HE. Here are my best bits quoted in a follow up Guardian article:
Outreach programmes can help encourage younger people from underprivileged backgrounds into higher education: There is much more that Russell Group universities could do to encourage youngsters from underprivileged backgrounds to enter into higher education, especially those recruiting less-diverse and more traditional students.
Good steps to take include creating outreach programmes that involve sending out graduates from Russell Group universities into their own communities to talk about their personal experiences of university. Another is to set up a mentoring scheme between these graduates and year 12 students who are considering going to university.
HEIs can spend as much money as they like on outreach programmes, but in some cases it will be extremely difficult to attract students from underprivileged backgrounds just because the costs are just not financially viable for people from low income backgrounds.
HEIs need to educate students about the concept of diversity and encourage students to celebrate it together: One thing HEIs could do is to create a diversity celebration week, where students and staff could celebrate diversity by learning more about different cultures, religions, races, sexualities and disabilities from students from these minority backgrounds. This will hopefully bring about a positive change.