POLAR Opposite: How the targeting of learners for access to HE work could be improved (2019)

This new AccessHE report proposes a change of approach to defining and targeting ‘disadvantaged’ learner groups currently under-represented in higher education (HE) in England. Looking at the evidence regarding the drawbacks with how the present POLAR measure is being used, both nationally and regionally, it suggests a new approach based around an individual income-based measure of socio-economic disadvantage and the creation of a national widening access cohort.

With the HE regulator calling for a collaborative and evidence-based approach to access and participation, the report’s recommendations offer an instructive way forward for providers and the sector as a whole. As the report lead author and Head of AccessHE, Dr Graeme Atherton, explains:

‘Our proposed approach would enable widening access work to have a greater impact and for this impact to be better captured. It would make partnership working and data sharing between schools and HE providers easier as well as providing the foundations for national evaluation of the impact of widening access work.’

The report was presented at the AccessHE 2019 Conference, The London Factor: The Future of Access and Participation in the Capital, which took place on 17th June 2019

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Published: August 2022