Impact and Effectiveness of Widening Access to HE in Wales Working Paper Series 1, WAQLCE2014-8

Widening access to higher education has been a central theme within the Welsh Government’s strategy for higher education in recent years. This widening access agenda is predicated on the basis that particular social groups (namely, those from particular social, ethnic or geographical backgrounds) are under-represented in HE. Widening access to HE opportunities to these groups is purported to bring about beneficial social and economic returns for the individual and society (Welsh Assembly Government, 2009). The Welsh government has developed a number of mechanisms, operating on various strategic levels (national, regional institutional), which aim to deliver this agenda. One of these mechanisms is its funding support arrangements which historically have intended to protect access to higher education amongst individuals from social and economic groups under-represented in HE. In addition to these national level policies, the Welsh Government has a regional strategy for widening access, manifest in the Reaching Wider initiative established in 2002.