Widening access, inclusion, progression and success in higher education is a key part of our strategy for higher education (HE).
We work with the Welsh Government, HE providers and other partners to support and promote opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds who have the potential to benefit from higher education.
Widening access to higher education and beyond makes a significant contribution to the society and economy of Wales, and supports social justice, social mobility and economic upskilling.
Our widening access strategic priorities include:
- all-age recruitment from Communities First clusters and Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation areas.
- improving progression pathways into HE.
- promoting fair admissions.
- promoting Wales as the destination of first choice for HE.
- prioritising higher-level learning and skills, retention and student success.
- increasing flexible learning opportunities, including part-time study, workplace learning and technology-enhanced learning.
- improving fair access to the professions, high level skills and the priority sectors contributing to economic prosperity.
- supporting government priorities relating to tackling poverty, raising educational aspirations and attainment, social mobility and equality of opportunity.
- improving the evidence base to support widening access to HE.
The higher education sector’s performance is monitored each year against a range of widening access indicators including those in our Corporate Strategy and the UK HE performance indicators.
Strategic approach to widening access
Reaching Wider Programme
We established Reaching Wider in 2002 as a Wales-wide, collaborative, long-term programme to break down perceived barriers and widen access to higher education and higher-level skills.
The Reaching Wider Programme aims to increase higher education participation from targeted groups and communities in Wales by raising educational aspirations and skills, and creating innovative study opportunities and learning pathways to higher education. Reaching Wider engages two main groups of people of all ages who are under-represented in higher education: people living in areas of deprivation (Communities First cluster areas and the bottom quintile of the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation) and looked after children and care leavers.
Three regional Reaching Wider Partnerships lead activities in North and Mid Wales, South West Wales and South East Wales (First Campus). All higher and further education institutions in Wales are members of Reaching Wider Partnerships. Other regional partners vary, but include local authorities, employers, schools, the voluntary sector and Careers Wales.
Equality and diversity
Although we do not have powers to set equality objectives for individual providers, we do have a long-term commitment to champion equality of opportunity and promote effective and inclusive practices in higher education.
Well-being and health
Our Well-being and Health in Higher Education Policy Statement contributes to our vision of supporting accessible higher education for all who could benefit from it or contribute to it.