The web-site is now in readonly mode. Login and registration are disabled. (28 June 2019)

Widening Participation to Postgraduate Education: Access after the White Paper

16 February 2012
Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, London, UK

Cloudscape created by:

John Rose-Adams
6 January 2012

<object id="oupod:XHt4QmEbXnKUoQri0pEe1A" width="560" height="340" resource="" data="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash">

In a House of Lords debate in October 2011 on the impact of Government policy on universities, peers commented that the Higher Education White Paper Students at the Heart of the System, “completely neglected…postgraduate studies”, that there “is a serious threat to graduate schools” and that it seems “inevitable that the postgraduate landscape will shift significantly as a result…of the heavy indebtedness of future undergraduates”. Government response in that debate was thin, Baroness Verma offering “We will continue to monitor the impact of our student finance reforms on postgraduate studies”. 

The mission to widen participation in higher education to correct for historic and systemic under-representation of certain groups in society is undiminished in its critical importance, a decade-and-a-half of hard effort notwithstanding. Yet evidence and debate on widening participation to postgraduate provision remains sparse, to say the least. 

At a time when the consequences of seismic change to the English undergraduate higher education sector are relatively unknown, careful consideration needs to be given to potential effects on postgraduate education. 

This timely one day conference:

  • Presented important and innovative research in widening access to and participation in UK postgraduate study:
    • what do we already know about access to postgraduate study?
    • what research about postgraduates is currently being undertaken? 
  • Aimed to identify implications of current research and knowledge for:
    • Government policy on postgraduate education
    • Institutional practice in postgraduate education and widening participation
  • Sought to engender and develop collaboration and peer support

Research was presented and debate encouraged around the following themes:

  • Widening access to postgraduate education for UK students, including institutional and mission group differences
  • The case for widening access to postgraduate study: social justice or economic imperative?
  • Transitions to postgraduate higher education

Research to be presented

Wage Inequality and Postgraduate Education

Steve Machin (University College London) and Joanne Lindley (University of Surrey) present findings from the London School of Economics' Centre for Economic Performance and ESRC funded research investigating increases in postgraduate education and the implications for inequality.

Transitions to postgraduate study (Institute of Education)

Penny Jane-Burke (Roehampton University and Institute of Education, University of London) presents findings from a large research project on different forms of transition to Masters level study including for students from groups traditionally under-represented in higher education.


10.00 - 10.30    

Registration and coffee

10.30 - 10.35   


10.35 – 10.50

Opening remarks – Access to Postgraduate education and the White Paper - Paul Wakeling (University of York)

10.50 - 11.20    

Keynote 1 – Iain Cameron (Head of Research Careers, Research Council UK)

11.20 - 11.40    

Research – Wage Inequality and Postgraduate Education, Steve Machin (University College London) and Joanne Lindley (University of Surrey)

11.40 – 11.55

Coffee Break

11.55 - 12.15    

Research – Transitions to postgraduate study, Penny Jane-Burke (Institute of Education and Roehampton University)

12.15 - 12.45    

Discussion and questions for Research presentations

12.45 - 13.45    


13.45 – 14.15    

Keynote 2 (TBC)

14.15 – 15.15      

Panel Debate

Dr Sharon Ding, Dean of Faculty of Education and Language Studies, The Open University

Ms Sarah Howls, Head of Widening Participation, Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)

Dr Penelope Griffin, Policy Lead, Bridge Group and Head of Widening Participation at the University of Nottingham)

Dr Debbie McVitty, Research and Policy Officer (Postgraduates), National Union of Students

15.15 – 15.30   

Closing remarks

More activity | RSS