Social dimension: equitable access and completion 2009-2012

Collection of good practice examples on the implementation of the Social Dimension in higher education

According to its Terms of Reference, the Working Group on Social Dimension 2009-2012 has committed to collect a series of examples of good practice on implementation of the social dimension at national, regional and institutional levels across the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).

Archived content for Bologna Experts - 11/07/2011
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Before the meeting in Berlin (11 July 2011) of the Working Group on Social Dimension 2009-2012, a call was launched to members of the group to provide practices and examples of successful implementation of different action lines and measures on social dimension implementation in their institutional or national context. Cases of good practices were sent by Belgium/Flemish Community, Croatia, Germany, Ireland, France, Norway, Spain, UK/Scotland and UK/England.
Considering the variety of the collected models of good practice, a “typology table for the collection of Social Dimension measures” was developed and used as a reference to set up the catalogue.

The shared experiences point to a range of different measures taken at institutional, regional and national levels or in different sectors of higher education by member countries to improve student access, participation and completion of studies at different stages (before entry to higher education, at higher education entry or during study progress). Moreover, the collected examples are intended to provide examples of policy development on equity and access issues across EHEA member states. Furthermore, the measures and policy initiatives could provide solutions to similar issues other member countries might face in their implementation of social dimension measures in higher education.

Measures occur before HE entry

At individual levelAt institutional level
Good practices - Scotland SHEP
Scottish programme aimed at providing support and guidance of underrepresented groups in society raise the aspiration of pupils to progress into higher education. It also offers practical assistance to prospective students to support the actual transition.
Good practices - Scotland Access to High Demand Professions
The Access to High Demand Professions programme provides a contextualised admission scheme for those coming from disadvantage backgrounds. The programme attempts to support talented pupils to acquire the necessary experience to be successful within highly selective universities and later enter into high demands professions (such as Medicine, Law, Dentistry etc.).
Good practices - Scotland SWAP
The Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) provides independent advice to adults who may have missed out on higher or further education first time round and provides them with access courses which can lead to guaranteed places in colleges or universities.
Good practices - Belgium Flemish Community
The Flemish Community in Belgium provides incentives to institutions for improving access and participation of students coming from disadvantaged and underrepresented groups in society.
Good practices - France The active guidance policy
This policy is based on a scheme for information and active guidance: in their final year of secondary school before their Baccalauréat, all pupils who plan to go on studying at university can benefit from a guidance assistance provided by institutions, combined with advice and recommendations, to enable them to make an informed choice.
Good practices - UK / England
The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) is an independent, non-departmental public body which aims to promote and safeguard fair access to higher education for under-represented groups in light of the introduction of variable tuition fees in 2006-07. HEFCE has delivered a Widening Participation allocation to institutions since 1999-2000 as part of the block teaching grant. Currently this has two main elements, widening access (WA), improving retention (IR), as well as a further stream for widening access and supporting provision for disabled students.
  Good practices - Spain International Campus of Excellence Program
The Ministry of Education and some of the Autonomous Communities have a number of outreach programs towards secondary school students from under-privileged groups aiming at increasing their access to information about academic and professional careers, boosting their motivation and aspirations to pursue tertiary level studies, and improve their academic preparation.

Measures occur at HE entry

At individual levelAt institutional level
Good practices - Ireland HEAR
The Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) is a third level admission scheme for school leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. All school leavers who meet all the eligibility criteria can compete for a quota of places (usually 5%) in the participating institutions.
Good practices - Spain Roma Action Plan
Spain has set an Action Plan for the development of the Roma population for 2010-2012. The plan aims to create awareness of Roma people’s situation within the framework of the education systems and to support Roma children’s access and prolongation of study in higher education. Furthermore the Ministry of Education has established a partnership with two foundations (ONCE and Repsol) to facilitate the participation of students with disabilities in tertiary education.

Measures occur during study progress

At individual levelAt institutional level
Good practices - Germany
Student Services and Student Affairs in Germany (such as study financing, students’ accommodation, meals, counselling, childcare services, etc) are designed to enable access to higher education institutions, ensure retention and study success.
Good practices - Norway Universell
The Norwegian national coordinator of accessibility in higher education (“Universal”) aims to promote better learning environments for students with disabilities and to provide advice and follow-up on the Learning Environment Committees at the higher education institutions.
Good practices - Ireland DARE
Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) is a college and university admission scheme in Ireland, which offers a number of places to school leavers with disabilities.
Good practices - Poland DARE
The Disability Support Service at the Jagiellonian University (UJ) in Cracow, Poland, has been providing students with assistive technologies, counselling and educational support since 1999. The Service provides specialised support to student with mobility disabilities, blind and partially sighted students, deaf and hard of hearing, students with mental health problems and those with special learning difficulties.
The NSP is a government programme designed to benefit individual students from disadvantaged backgrounds as they enter higher education from autumn 2012.  
Good practices - France
The social criteria-based grants are the main element of the French student support scheme. They are granted according to the social situation of the student.

Measures in other sectors of higher education

Improving the equity dimension at the HE system level

Good practices - Croatia
Croatia’s Tempus project entitled “Towards Equitable and Transparent Access to Higher Education in Croatia” (2009-2012) focuses on the financial aspect of equitable access to higher education. The project collects data on social background and living conditions of students and on drafts policy guidelines to enhance the equity dimension and transparency of the HE funding and student financial aid system in Croatia.

Good practices - France Disabled students - Aids offered to students with disabilities or health problems (during study progress)
Over the last few years, the measures taken by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research demonstrate its commitment to facilitate the integration of disabled people in higher education.
The Act of 11 February 2005 on “the equality of rights and opportunities, the participation and citizenship of disabled people” has changed fundamentally the obligations of universities in terms or reception of disabled people.

Good practices - Spain Observatorio Universitario
The Ministry of Education has launched an agency (“University Centre for Grants, Financial Aid and University Performance”) responsible for analyzing the impact of grants and financial aids to students and for providing advice on ways to improve the social dimension in tertiary education.

Improving employability

Good practices - Scotland Employability
Development of work placement projects (Education into Enterprise, E-Placements Scotland, Third Sector Internships Scotland, Embedding Work Placements in Taught Masters Programmes) and support in matters of employability.
Good practices - Scotland Case studies

Good practices - Spain FARO
The Faro Global Programme aim is to help students in their last year of study to find jobs throughout a paid internship opportunity in companies of European Union member countries, the USA, Canada and some Asian countries.

Published: 11/07/2011 - Last modified: 04/07/2016
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