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Policy enactment in Widening Participation: enablers and barriers in a comparative English and Australian study

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This comparative analysis of national contexts and institutional perspectives for widening participation (WP) policies uses two illuminative case studies of selective universities from England and Australia. We reviewed national policy contexts, analysed institutional policy documents, and conducted semi-structured interviews with WP practitioners. Findings show how differences in national and institutional contexts impact on staffing, resources, reporting, evaluations and the WP activities run. Striking, however, are the shared challenges WP practitioners encountered regardless of institutional and national contexts, such as: balancing collaboration and competition with other universities; balancing recruitment and wider social justice aims of WP, balancing short and long-term policy aims; and satisfying sometimes contradictory external policy parameters. In conclusion, the institutional perspectives presented here highlight shared opportunities and barriers faced when translating WP policy ambitions into policy outcomes, and suggest opportunities for enhancing policy and practice.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2016

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  • The journal is based on the belief that there are neglected links between research and theory, and policy and practice in the promotion of widening participation in post-compulsory education and lifelong learning. It aims to provide a forum for the development of theory, the addressing of policy questions and the dissemination of innovative practice in the field of widening participation and lifelong learning.
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