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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Broadening Participation: The Freshstart Experience

Eleri Bowen, Steve Thomas, S Lloyd.

The UK Government has emphasised the need to widen participation in higher education, appealing to those groups of society who are not traditionally liked to higher education. The belief being that widening participation will create a self-perpetuating learning society, creating economic prosperity and social cohesion.

This paper clarifies the way in which the 'Freshstart' project in the Technology Department at the University of Glamorgan minimises barriers to entry in a bid to widen participation for two groups. The Dearing Report identifies mature students and students from lower socio-economic backgrounds as less likely to participate in higher education.

The 'Freshstart' course is a foundation year in the Technology Department at the University of Glamorgan. Unlike traditional foundation years the 'Freshstart' course offers students a bursary of £2000, this bursary is available for students from Objective One areas. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate how a foundation year coupled with a bursary has been effective at widening participation.

The Dearing Report states ' the largest single determinant of participation in higher education amongst 18 to 21 year olds is educational achievement at 18'. Data shows those from lower socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to achieve the desired grades to attend University. Therefore a foundation year will assist those without the necessary qualifications gain entry on to a degree course. Despite entry qualifications being a significant factor, lower socio-economic background students who do gain the required grades are less likely to progress on to higher education than their higher socio-economic background counterparts. Financial constraints are thought to be one of the major contributing factors to this non-participation. The 'Freshstart' bursary attempts to remove the financial constraints of attending University for those groups of society who can least afford it.


Eleri Bowen  (United Kingdom)
Research Assistant
Technology Department
University of Glamorgan

Eleri Bowen works as a Research Assistant in the Technology Department of the University of Glamorgan, South Wales. Her current research interests are, the role of key skill development in higher education and widening access in higher education.

Steve Thomas

S Lloyd

  • Widening Particpation
  • Lower Socio-economc groups
  • Mature Students
  • Higher Education

(30 min Conference Paper, English)