Beyond access to HE: Widening Access initiatives and student retention in Scotland

Widening access to Higher Education continues to be highly topical in Scotland, as underlined by the establishment of the Scottish Government Commission on Widening Access in June 2015. As well as promoting equality of access to Higher Education, a key feature of the Widening Participation (WP) strategy is the focus on maximising student retention due to non-completion having adverse personal outcomes for students and negative implications for HE institutions.

This study, funded by the Scottish Funding Council, was carried out by researchers working within AQMeN’s Education and Social Stratification strand. This research used data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) on all Scottish-domiciled students enrolled in higher education institutions in Scotland to examine non-continuation rates and patterns of students within the Widening Participation (WP) strategy and compare them to the non-continuation patterns of all Scottish-domiciled HE students. The study also analysed differences in non-continuation rates between male and female students, HE students with protected characteristics and articulating students. The research also looked at variations in non-continuation rates across different university types and fields of study.

Find out more about this research with the following publications:

Beyond Access to HE: Widening Access initiatives and student retention in Scotland – a full report of the research findings.

AQMeN research briefing 9 – Beyond Access to HE briefing – a briefing paper including a non-technical summary of the research.

Policy relevance:
This project will be of particular interest to researchers, policy makers, educationalists, practitioners and other professionals working in the area of widening access to higher education.


Cristina Iannelli

Gitit Kadar-Satat