Organisational Learning and Widening Participation

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The core ethos of BU’s Fair Access Research programme is that by working and learning together for widening participation we , as an institution and a sector, can better support marginalised people to access and succeed in higher education.

We want to find out more about how widening participation is being learnt in the different institutions and organisations that make up the higher education sector. By this we mean how the insights, knowledge, theories, data, expertise and experiences of widening participation are being learnt individually and collectively within organisations.

Thinking about widening participation as a process of organisational learning touches upon issues of knowledge retention, professional recognition and development, as well as infrastructures for research development and dissemination, all of which is so vital for the sector to transform itself into more equitable places.

organisational learning

On behalf of BU’s Fair Access Research, Maggie Hutchings and Alex Wardrop have designed a survey for the sector to find out more about how widening participation is learnt, retained and shared within and across different organisations.

This study follows the publication of a paper that called for a far more embedded approach to research in institution’s access agreements. We argue that research undertaken as part of the access agreement process can provide much needed evidence of impact and situate activity within an institution-wide context. However, we also suggest that widening participation research has the potential to offer productive troubling ideas to dominant rhetoric and, in so doing, shape new ways of thinking about, and doing, widening participation within institutions and across the sector.

The survey will take no more than 15 minutes to complete and will contribute to a much deeper understanding of the role that widening participation has across different organisations.

Please share this survey with colleagues.

If you want to know more about this particular research study email Maggie ( or Alex (

For more information about the Fair Access Research programme as a whole, please email Dr Clive Hunt ( and Dr Vanessa Heaslip (



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