Widening participation in higher education is a key priority for the Department for Employment and Learning. Widening participation in higher education facilitates and increases the participation of those groups, which are currently under represented in HE in particular students from disadvantaged backgrounds and students with learning difficulties and disabilities.
The aim of the policy is to ensure that all those who have the ability to benefit from higher education have the opportunity to do so. Higher education and the opportunities that it brings should be available to all, regardless of their background.
The Department is addressing the issue of widening participation in higher education through a number of broad policy directions and a number of specific actions. These include:

  • an increase in domestic HE (and FE) provision
  • the expansion of Foundation Degrees
  • a widening participation premium for students from disadvantaged backgrounds;
  • a widening access premium for students with disabilities;
  • special initiative funding to develop partnerships between the universities and schools with traditionally low levels of participation in HE
  • capital funding to assist the universities improve access for disabled students. More...