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What are Scottish colleges and universities doing to tackle disadvantage in student access across protected characteristics?

Banner image for Attracting Diversity in student access and recruitment

What are Scottish colleges and universities doing to tackle disadvantage and underrepresentation in student access across protected characteristics?

Are we making enough progress to address gender imbalances in Scottish post-16 education?

What does innovation in widening access look like for equality groups?

Over the past three years, 22 Scottish colleges and universities have taken part in Equality
Challenge Unit’s (now Advance HE) SFC-funded Attracting Diversity project. Teams in institutions have carried out research and data analysis to understand the specific barriers faced by disadvantaged or underrepresented groups to student access and recruitment. Each team has used that data and research to inform an innovative plan of action to test out new positive action approaches to tackling barriers to participation in further and higher education.

Attracting Diversity in student access and recruitmentEach project has been tailor made to respond to each local and institutional context. Projects like creative schools outreach projects to encourage more female applicants into STEM subjects; improved marketing strategies and single-sex open days to increase male participation in nursing and care subjects; bespoke mentoring and industry partners for female engineering students; reviewing course names to challenge gender stereotypes in sports subjects; changing entry criteria to increase applications into physics and engineering from females and students from lower socio-economic backgrounds; and working with local partners to improve participation of black, Asian, and minority ethnic applicants into performing arts are all great examples of positive action.

Attracting Diversity project teams have been monitoring and evaluating these initiatives and learned valuable lessons on what works (and what doesn’t!). The time has come to share these lessons with the further and higher education sectors.

We will be showcasing each project, its key findings and recommendations at our Festival of Learning on Tuesday 5 June at Dynamic Earth Edinburgh. This free event is open to all stakeholders interested in improving equality and diversity in student recruitment and access including senior managers, policy makers, equality and diversity practitioners, widening access teams, academics, students and sector agencies.

Highlights in the programme so far include:

  • Expert panel discussion of “men into care” initiatives including hair, childcare and nursing.
  • Workshops on collaborative approaches and schools outreach work.
  • Exploration of how to build effective and sustainable interventions in a challenging context.
  • Opportunity to contribute to ‘crowdsourcing the future’, ensuring progress is made in equality and diversity in student participation.
  • Input from Matson Lawrence, Scottish Funding Council, on Gender Action Plans and embedding sustainable approaches to equality in student access.
  • Interactive exhibition stalls where you can have a go at STEM experiments and hear about Attracting Diversity projects.

Registration to the Festival of Learning is open! Secure your place by registering online.

We look forward to seeing you there.