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Enduring Inequalities and New Agendas for Widening Participation in Higher Education: Student Access, Mobilities and ‘Success’

Thursday 27 July 2017, 9:00 - 17:00
Rooms 12.21 & 12.15, Social Sciences Building, University of Leeds

Dr Sharon Elley, Liz Hurley and Dr Kim Allen, School of Sociology and Social Policy (L-YCR, FLaG) and Educational Engagement

About the conference

The UK government’s focus on Higher Education reform has recently been laid out in the White Paper: ‘Success as a Knowledge Economy: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice’ (BIS, May 16th, 2016). Its aim is to introduce the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) intended to reshape teaching standards, graduate employability and university entrance. This publication has revitalised longstanding concerns about widening participation and inequality in access, progression and outcomes for disadvantaged students. While the paper states a recommitment by the Prime Minister to widening participation via increasing participation among students from disadvantaged and BAME backgrounds, concerns have been raised that a number of the proposals will mitigate against this stated ambition.

Against this backdrop, we warmly invite you to this free one-day event which will bring together practitioners, researchers and students to discuss current research and practice concerned with addressing inequalities in Higher Education. The event will focus on questioning our definitions of student ‘success’, ‘progress’, ‘mobility’ and ‘achievement’ imposed within dominant policy and institutional discourse.  It will provide the opportunity to explore the distinctive and diverse experiences of disadvantaged and ‘non-traditional’ students and consider innovative ways to challenge enduring and evolving inequalities through inclusive policies and practice.

This event will be of interest to widening participation practitioners, students, professionals and academic staff whose research interests lie in equal access, student success and social mobility. We welcome delegates with practical experience or a research interest in any of these areas.

Lunch and refreshments are provided. So we can cater accordingly and send any enquires to: Dr Sharon Elley, School of Sociology and Social Policy, email:


Registration, networking, refreshments

Dr Sharon Elley and Liz Hurley

Opening Address: ‘The shifting landscape of widening participation: current challenges, expectations and realities’
Professor Jacqueline Stevenson, Sheffield Hallam University, Head of Sheffield Institute of Higher Education


Panel 1: Accessing higher education

  • Jessie Abrahams, Cardiff University: ‘Option blocks that block options: higher education aspirations and opportunity structures in secondary schools in England’
  • Dr Mandy Winterton, Napier University: ‘Intersections of gender and class: working-class men’s Journey’s to elite higher education’
  • Dr Kate Carruthers Thomas, Birmingham City University: ‘Part-time spaces: rethinking ‘belonging’ in higher education’

Question/Answer: Chair Sharon and Liz

Break and refreshments


Panel 2: Experiences within university

  • Dr Kirsty Finn, University of Lancaster: ‘Contested (im)mobilities: gendered experiences of 'staying local’
  • Dr Richard Budd, Liverpool Hope University: ‘Fish out of water? Contrasting the widening participation student experience at a selective/elite HEI’
  • Remi Salisbury, University of Leeds: 'Recognizing and troubling racial microaggressions in higher education'

Question/Answer: Chair Mandy Winterton



Panel 3: Outcomes and graduate transitions

  • Dr Tony Ellis, University of Leeds: ‘Widening participation: life-long learning perspectives’
  • Louise Banahene, University of Leeds: ‘Supporting widening participation students through university and beyond’ (tbc)
  • Dr Paul Wakeling, University of York: ‘Institutional stratification, graduate outcomes and upward social mobility in the UK’

Question/Answer: Matthew Dollery

Discussant: ‘Emerging themes, reflections and the future of HE’
Carole Leathwood, Professor Emeritus, Institute for Policy Studies in Education, London Metropolitan University

Final close
Liz Hurley and Sharon Elley

Networking and refreshments


Downloadable peresentations

Widening Participation: Lifelong Learning Perspectives

Tony Ellis
Lifelong Learning Centre, University of Leeds)

The shifting landscape of widening participation: current challenges, expectations and realities

Professor Jacqueline Stevenson
Sheffield Hallam University

Recognizing and troubling Racial Microaggressions in Higher Education

Remi Joseph-Salisbury
University of Leeds

Institutional stratification, graduate outcomes and upward social mobility in the UK

Paul Wakeling
Centre for Research on Education and Social Justice, Department of Education, University of York

Part-time spaces:rethinking ‘belonging’ in HE

Dr Kate Carruthers Thomas
Research Fellow, Birmingham City University

Supporting autistic students during their transition to university

Marc Fabri, Leeds Beckett University
Penny Andrews, University of Sheffield
Heta Pukki, Keskuspuisto College, Helsinki, Finland

Intersections of gender and class: working-class men’s journey’s to elite higher education

Dr Mandy Winterton
Edinburgh Napier University

Supporting widening participation students through university and beyond

Louise Banahene
University of Leeds

Contested (im)mobilities: Gendered experiences of 'staying local'

Kirsty Finn
Lancaster University

Fish out of water? Contrasting the WP student experience at a selective HEI

Dr Richard Budd
Liverpool Hope University

Emerging themes, reflections and the future of HE

Carole Leathwood
Professor Emeritus, London Metropolitan University