The importance of information, advice and guidance in widening access initiatives

Robert Summers, Sarah Fullwood, Rain Sherlock, Elisabeth Moores*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite significant amounts spent on widening access to higher education (HE), there is sparse evidence of what works. Evaluation of multi-intervention programmes is challenging because it is difficult to elucidate which elements of programmes are important (and why). Here we present results from focus groups and surveys at different timepoints on a multi-intervention programme based at a UK university. At the start of the programme, attitudes towards studying at - and belonging in - HE were already positive. Confidence in how to apply to and fund HE was relatively low at the start of the programme and increased significantly during it. In contrast, the perception of being able to afford to participate in HE was relatively low throughout. Focus group data also suggested that information on application and funding was helpful and additionally highlighted concerns over affordability and the social side of HE. Information, advice and guidance (IAG) elements of multi-intervention programmes therefore appear to confer significant benefit to students in understanding how to apply to and fund HE. Whilst aspiration raising seems not to be a critical aspect of widening access, focus on attainment and away from aspiration raising should not be done at the expense of excluding IAG.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWidening Participation and Lifelong Learning
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 26 Feb 2024


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