The Evolution of Access: Adapt to Survive? New Challenges and Opportunities in Widening Participation in Higher Education

the agora council of europe strasbourg france

Globally, participation in higher education has risen substantially. According to the OECD (Education at a Glance 2012) entry rates to university level programmes in OECD countries grew on average by nearly 25 percentage points between 1995 and 2010.

This is good news, but fireworks would be premature. Despite expanding opportunities, participation and success in higher education remain skewed. In Europe, higher education entered a new era when the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) came into being in 2010; and the Bologna reforms had ‘changed the face of higher education across Europe’. Meeting in 2012 against the backdrop of the European financial crisis, the European Ministers responsible for higher education affirmed it was ‘an important part of the solution to our current difficulties’.

Progress towards equitable and inclusive higher education in Europe has previously moved slowly. The resolve of the Ministers is clear, but can real progress be achieved?

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