Students' unions engagement and support with the widening participation agenda

Hannah Pudner


This paper explores the nature and extent to which students' unions have supported and contributed to the Labour Government's 1997-2009 widening participation agenda in the English higher education (HE) sector. Evidence from a questionnaire of 53 student unions in England and a series of follow-up semi-structured interviews was analysed in relation to Louise Archer's 2007 analysis of how institutional mission links to institutional engagement with widening participation. This provided a framework which enabled analysis of how a parent institution's prioritisation of research, teaching and vocational learning on local, national and international scales influenced the nature and extent to which students' unions engaged with this policy area and how this manifested itself into action. The research indicated that students ' union widening participation activity is directly linked to their parent institution's approach; and where institutions were found to be less engaged, so the students' union was more likely to attempt to take a leadership role.

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Editor-in-Chief: Prof Norbert Pachler
UCL Institute of Education, University College London
ISSN 1746-9082

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