Researching widening access
The aim of this chapter is to provide an overview of research into widening access. But the topic itself - research into widening access - contains within it a tension, if not a contradiction. On the one hand, widening access has become a dominant policy preoccupation. Higher education in England is embarking on a third wave of expansion, on a scale that is equivalent to and potentially outstrips the first wave associated with the Robbins report in the mid-1960s and the second wave unleashed by the abandonment of the binary system between 1988 and 1992. The target is 50 per cent participation for 30-year-olds and younger by 2010, even if the target has been downplayed in recent ministerial statements. Widening participation is the key motif of this third wave.