Engaging with Communities: Making Higher Education Accessible to Non-standard Entrants of the Past, Present and Future
The Review of Post-18 Education and Funding (the Augar Report) states that the purpose of post-18 education is to ‘promote citizens’ ability to realise their full potential economically and more broadly’. However, the Report identifies that ‘the longer-employment outcomes for disadvantaged students remain disappointing and there are regional gaps in access to tertiary education.’ In addition, it observes that the ‘numbers undertaking adult education and part-time study have fallen at all levels.’ Foundation years currently operate to address these issues. They aim to widen access to, and participation in, higher education for mature students and/or those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The agenda for widening participation is not new and has a long history. This article will take a ‘long view’ of the movement to widen participation by taking account of historical precursors, namely adult education organisations, to foundation years. It will use historical evidence and information on the current state of post-18 education to explain the social, economic and policy backgrounds in which foundation years currently operate. Using the evidence, it will suggest that stronger collaborations between universities and adult education organisations have potential to support the agenda more effectively for widening participation in higher education.