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Free Content Partnership building for student access in online spaces: an evaluative exploration of the Higher Education Progression Partnership South Yorkshire

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption to the educational experiences of young people and to educational institutions. This article will examine the opportunities and challenges of the 'emergency' move to online spaces for the universities, schools and colleges in the Higher Education Progression Partnership South Yorkshire (HeppSY). Within the article, there is a particular focus on stakeholder groups and their relationships, which were vital for accessing and engaging the target students for activities and initiatives, but they are often not explicitly discussed when evaluating the impact of widening participation activities. This article will present the findings of 16 interviews and focus groups and the opportunities and challenges of moving into an online space will be outlined from the perspective of two stakeholder groups, as well as issues around digital poverty, capability and funding. The discussion section will focus on the implications of the online environment for widening participation and partnerships and how it can be moved beyond emergency online delivery to be planned and sustainable. It concludes by outlining the role of the online in widening participation and partnership working that will help drive the diversification of access post-pandemic.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Sheffield Hallam University, UK

Publication date: July 1, 2022

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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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