Hastings: Widening participation and its communities

  • Church, Andrew (CoI)
  • Hillier, Yvonne (CoI)
  • Hyde, Suzanne (CoI)
  • Robinson, Carol (PI)
  • Watson, Judith (CoI)

Project Details


This research was based in Hastings, and was part of a larger project in five areas of England selected on the basis of low levels of young participation in higher education in urban, rural and coastal areas. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) provided £50,000 in funding.

The aims of the study were to provide all parties with a better understanding of the social, economic and cultural factors that might lie behind the low participation rates in each community, in order to establish what might be done to improve them, and to commit institutions to embedding strategic activity that will widen participation across the areas studied.

Key findings

The research was part of an ongoing commitment by the University of Brighton to widening participation in Hastings. It employed a multi-method approach using survey, interview and focus group tools, alongside documentary analysis and desk survey.

The project considered the influence of family background, school experience, aspirations and attitudes along with the impact of information, advice and guidance. 
Key recommendations featured practical actions to be implemented through education partnerships, including:

> the need for college and university staff to visit schools regularly and engage young people in activities that provided a taster of the next level of learning, regardless of attainment level
> one-to-one support for reluctant learners to combat non-participation and move them into provision, and
> encouraging young people to act as advocates and ensure they can contribute to the prosperity of Hastings.

The purpose of the research and report was to provide further impetus to continue the important widening participation work in Hastings to ensure that young people and their families benefit from the education and training opportunities available.

This project contributed to HEFCE’s aim to facilitate longer term higher education engagement in low participation neighbourhoods and to develop transferable models of practice. Evidence will inform sustainable development and engagement in education across all communities and ages on an ongoing basis.
[See final report, attached]
Effective start/end date1/01/0931/05/10


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