Towards Equitable Access in Higher Education – A Lifelong Learning Challenge
The EquNET project is an independent research and networking initiative which aims to map access to higher education for marginalised and non-traditional groups of learners based on the principle of equity. Funded by the European Commission, the initiative is led by the Brussels-based Menon Network and seven other international organisations and research institutes.
On 7 November 2012, the final project conference was held in Brussels, bringing together some 50 researchers, policy-makers and practitioners in the field of equity research and policies in higher education, including a representative from the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning. Based on studies carried out over the past three years, the consortium presented key findings from their analysis of access of specific groups to higher education. These findings will be published in a series of three reports under the title of “Evolving diversity” (1-3). While the first two reports look at access and participation of students according to their socioeconomic conditions and their migrant status, the third report looks at access to higher education from a lifelong learning perspective, specifically by adult learners. This final report will be available by the end of 2012.
With a view to lifelong learning, the discussions clearly identified the need to work towards a more common understanding of the concept from a higher education perspective and to support universities in opening up to non-traditional learners, thus bridging the gap between policy and institutional practice.