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Widening participation: Rethinking the role of the HEI

Thomson, Sam; Franklin, Alex


Sam Thomson


This presentation will outline some of the key findings of the ‘Entry Level Employment in Bristol’s Creative Industries Sectors’ [ELEBCIS] research project; a study commissioned by Bristol City Council’s [BCC] Economy Team and funded by BCC, the University of the West of England [UWE] and HEIF. The ELEBCIS project aimed to better understand the barriers being faced by young people wishing to access the burgeoning arts, creative and cultural sector labour markets in Bristol so that responses might be developed to counteract or remove them. The project included primary research in the form of interviews with: young people working with, and professionals working for, informal education providers across the Bristol area; professionals working in formal education (at school, in Further Education and in Higher Education Institutions); Creative and Digital Sector Employers and Employees in a range of companies of different sizes located in the city; focus group meetings with young people in formal education settings in different areas of the city, each with comparatively different intakes and traditions of progression for students into both Higher Education and in to employment in these sectors to date. Secondary research took place in the form of a literature review. A lack of diversity has been a persistent feature of the UK cultural and creative industries

despite repeated initiatives, investment programmes and government policies attempting to address the issue. The findings of the ELEBCIS project provide food for thought for HEIs committed to widening participation [WP]; not least of which is its highlighting of how much HEIs can learn from external partners about working with the very young (and older) people who are being targeted by HEI WP initiatives. It also called attention to the need for the involvement of such external partner organisations and local sector networks in reaching those being targeted; plus the need for long-term, potentially slow-return investments in such partnerships if they are to be both sustainable and mutually beneficial.


Thomson, S., & Franklin, A. (2017, July). Widening participation: Rethinking the role of the HEI. Paper presented at HEA Annual Conference 2017 Generation TEF: Teaching in the spotlight

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name HEA Annual Conference 2017 Generation TEF: Teaching in the spotlight
Start Date Jul 4, 2017
End Date Jul 6, 2017
Acceptance Date Dec 16, 2016
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords diversity, widening participation, barriers, higher education, creative, cultural, sustainability
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : HEA Annual Conference 2017 Generation TEF: Teaching in the spotlight