ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021

 
ASEM National
     Equity Policies
in Higher Education
              2021
Imprint

    Publisher
    Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)
    31 Heng Mui Keng Terrace
    Singapore 11959
    www.asef.org

    Editor
    Professor Graeme ATHERTON, Head Centre for Levelling Up, University of West
    London and Director, National Education Opportunities Network (NEON)

    Contributors
    Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) – Education Department:
    Ms Leonie NAGARAJAN, Director
    Ms Reka TOZSA, Senior Project Manager
    Mr Miguel PANGALANGAN, Project Officer
    Mr James TAN, Inclusion Advisor

    Publication design:
    Heiko Seibel, Visual concepts and photography

    ISBN 978-981-18-2253-7

    Copyright
    Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) © 2021 – All rights reserved.

    Open Access
    This report is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution
    Non-commercial License, which permits any non-commercial use, distribution,
    and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are
    credited.

    Note
    This report was produced in collaboration between the Asia-Europe Foundation
    (ASEF) and the National Equity Opportunity Network (NEON) to contribute to the 6th
    ASEF Regional Conference on Higher Education (ARC8) on “Inclusive and Diverse
    Higher Education in Asia and Europe” on 10 September 2021. Any views and
    opinions expressed in this report are the sole responsibility by the editor and do
    not necessarily reflect the views of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) or the Asia-
    Europe Foundation (ASEF).

2   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
Contents

                                                                   Page

    0       Executive Summary                                        4

    1       Introduction                                             9
    2       Equitable access and success in Higher Education        10
    3       Methodology                                             12
    4       Are policies in place and who are they targeted at?     13
    5       How are policy objectives achieved?                     23
    6       How does policy formation work?                         31
    7       How is progress measured?                               33
    8       What has the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic been on    35
            policies related to equitable access and success?
    9       Key Findings                                            38
    10      Summary                                                 39

            Appendices                                              41

3   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
0     Executive Summary
0.1   Background

      This report examines the various                           context of a particular country.
      approaches by governments across                           These groups are usually (although
      Asia and Europe to support students                        not exclusively) drawn from one or
      from all social backgrounds and                            more of the following categories: a
      circumstances to enter higher                              low income/socio-economic group,
      education. The geographical focus is                       students belonging to ethnic and
      on countries within the Asia-Europe                        religious minority backgrounds, female
      Meeting (ASEM) constituency.1                              students, students with disabilities,
                                                                 students belonging to sexual or gender
      It draws upon a survey of national                         minorities, older students or those
      policies in 47 ASEM countries focused                      from rural backgrounds.
      on equitable access and success
      across the two continents assessing                        This report is a collaboration between
      what strategies are in place, where                        the Education Department of the
      targets exist and how they are being                       Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) and
      measured and whether COVID-19 has                          the National Education Opportunities
      impacted on this work.                                     Network (NEON). ASEF liaised with
                                                                 national ministries responsibility
      Access to higher education refers                          for higher education and experts in
      to participation by students from all                      equitable access/success in higher
      backgrounds. Equitable access refers                       education on the survey and data
      to participation by students who are                       input over the period of September
      either in the minority in a particular                     2020 to July 2021. The data was
      country or come from a ‘disadvantaged                      analysed and the report written by
      majority’ who on average earn less/                        Professor Graeme Atherton, Director of
      experience greater social/economic                         the National Education Opportunities
      challenges than a minority population.                     Network (NEON) in the United Kingdom
      The nature of the specific minorities                      and World Access to Higher Education
      or disadvantaged majority is defined                       Day (WAHED).
      by the social, economic and political

      1 The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is an intergovernmental process established in 1996 to foster dialogue
      and cooperation between Asia and Europe. ASEM addresses political, economic, financial, social, cultural, and
      educational issues of common interest in a spirit of mutual resepect and equal partnership. ASEM brings together
      30 European countries, the European Union, 21 Asian countries and the ASEAN Secretariat.
      https://www.aseminfoboard.org

4     ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
0     Executive Summary
0.2   Key Findings

      In all countries higher education equity                  There is some form of additional
      features in government produced                           financial support available for students
      higher education policy documents.                        from equity target groups identified
                                                                by 47 of the 51 respondents who
      Less than a third of countries – 30%,                     participated in the study.2 The most
      have a specific higher education equity                   common form of support offered
      strategy with 6 from Europe and 7                         though is some form of scholarship
      from Asia.                                                which is only available to certain
                                                                cohorts or any equity target group and
      There are 8 countries with equitable                      usually the most able.
      access and success plans/
      performance agreements.                                   Almost all – over 90%, of countries
                                                                consult with higher education
      The most common equity target                             associations in the formation of
      groups are lower income/socio-                            equitable access/success policy but
      economic background students and                          less than half consult with civic society
      students with disabilities.                               organisations.

      There are 28 countries where at least                     Inter-governmental/international
      6 different equity target groups are                      organisations should focus on policy
      identified.                                               setting and facilitating peer learning/
                                                                exchange of experience if they want to
      Only 34% of countries have specific                       maximise the support they can offer
      targets related to the access and                         in formulating effective policy in this
      success in higher education of equity                     area.
      target groups.
                                                                In 84% of countries COVID-19 has had
      Despite students with disabilities                        a significant impact on policies related
      being a priority group in every country                   to equitable access and success.
      in the survey, only 3 countries have
      targets for such students.

      Over two-thirds – 68% of countries are
      supporting non-monetary equitable
      access/success instruments of which
      the most common are preferential
      admission arrangements followed by
      national outreach programmes.

      2 For Belgium, two survey responses were submitted by both the French community (Ministry of Wallonia
      Brussels Federation) and the Flemish Community (Ministry of Education and Training). For the United Kingdom,
      the four nations England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were included as separate entities given that
      each has its own different approach to equitable access/success in higher education.

5     ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
0     Executive Summary
0.3   Summary

      Equitable access/success in higher                       to identify what policy commitments
      education is recognized as a universal                   really mean and where they are
      issue across the 47 ASEM countries                       supported by real investment and
      which participated in ths study.                         effort and where this is less so.
      However, a detailed focus on the issue
      via specific policy documents related                    International dialogue and
      to the issue or targets that relate to                   collaboration can have a vital role
      access or success in higher education                    here in taking this work forward.
      for particular target groups is far from                 There are a network of organisations/
      universal.                                               groups who working with national
                                                               governments are able to assist in this
      Fortunately, there are some excellent                    further work including the Asia-Europe
      examples, drawn from both Asia and                       Foundation (ASEF), World Access to
      Europe, of what more well developed                      Higher Education Day (WAHED) and the
      policy approaches in this field look                     European Commission Working Group
      like and a recognition of the value                      on the Social Dimension.
      of international dialogue to form
      relationships of mutual support which                    As we hopefully take the tentative
      can enable countries to construct                        steps across two continents to emerge
      approaches that work in their own                        from the shadow of the pandemic it
      particular context. These examples are                   is vital this work is done. The risk is
      drawn from countries of differing sizes                  that the post-pandemic period will
      and income levels. There is a need                       see existing inequalities in access/
      for further work to assist countries                     success in higher education only
      from across the income/participation                     worsen. There is the opportunity to
      spectrum in developing policies in this                  avoid this but to do so action must be
      area but the foundations are there                       taken now.

6     ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
Executive Summary
    Recommendations for ASEM governments and ministries

    1
                                                             The production of specific strategies
                                                             to address equitable access/success
                                                             in higher education should be explored
                                                             with clear progress targets learning
                                                             from established practices in other
                                                             Asian and European countries.

    2
                                                             Schools and teaching unions should
                                                             be more closely involved in the
                                                             development of equitable access/
                                                             success policies.

    3
                                                             Monitoring/evaluation and data
                                                             collection needs to be built into the
                                                             development of equitable access/
                                                             success polices and the production of
                                                             international standards and practices
                                                             in the field explored.

    4
                                                             Non-monetary instruments and
                                                             outreach work should be extended
                                                             via pilot work led at the national/
                                                             institutional level.

    5
                                                             A suitable ASEM platform and forum to
                                                             share practice and policy development
                                                             in equitable access/success amongst
                                                             policymakers should be established
                                                             in partnership with appropriate inter-
                                                             governmental/international bodies.

    6
                                                             Progress in the development of
                                                             effective equitable access/success in
                                                             higher education policies should be
                                                             reported on bi-annually via a Higher
                                                             Education Policy Study report, to be
                                                             presented at ASEM Senior Officials
                                                             Meetings and ASEM Education
                                                             Ministerial Meetings.

7   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
8   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
1   Introduction

    As economies across Asia and Europe                        examines what approaches are being
    seek to recover from the ongoing                           taken by governments in Asia and
    impact of the pandemic, it will be                         Europe to meeting thus challenge. The
    increasingly important to ensure that                      geographical focus is on countries
    higher education participation is open                     within the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)
    to those from all social backgrounds.                      constituency. It draws upon a large
    The pandemic has accelerated                               survey of national policies focused
    shifts from low skill to higher skill                      on equitable access and success
    employment and made the attributes                         across the two continents examining
    that higher education graduates                            what strategies are in place, where
    develop increasingly important to                          targets exist and how they are being
    society. However, enabling those from                      measured and whether COVID-19 has
    equity target groups to enter higher                       impacted on this work.
    education is challenging.3 This report

    3 McKinsey Global Institute (2021) The future of work after COVID-19 - https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-
    insights/future-of-work/the-future-of-work-after-covid-19

9   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
2    Equitable access and success in Higher Education

     The purpose of this study is to                            are doing in this area. However, it
     examine the policies adopted by 47                         is equitable access and success
     ASEM countries regarding equitable                         which is the focus of this research
     access to and success in higher                            project because the evidence shows
     education as opposed to access                             clearly that participation by those with
     overall. Access to higher education                        different characteristics/backgrounds
     refers to participation by students from                   is unequal across every country in
     all backgrounds. Equitable access                          Asia and Europe.4 The extent of this
     refers to participation by students who                    inequality differs across the two
     are either in the minority in a particular                 continents and overall participation in
     country or come from a ‘disadvantaged                      higher education is generally lower in
     majority’ who on average earn less/                        Asia.5
     experience greater social/economic
     challenges than a minority population.                     This study will build on previous work
     The nature of the specific minorities                      that has been undertaken as part of
     or disadvantaged majority is defined                       the World Access to Higher Education
     by the social, economic and political                      Day (WAHED) initiative examining the
     context of a particular country.                           policy approaches taken by different
     These groups are usually (although                         countries to addressing inequalities
     not exclusively) drawn from one of                         in access and success in higher
     more of the following categories: a                        education. The ‘All around the world:
     low income/socio-economic group,                           Higher Education Equity Policies
     students belonging to ethnic and                           across the globe’ study covered over
     religious minority backgrounds, female                     70 countries across the world looking
     students, students with disablities,                       at whether policy commitments were in
     students belonging to sexual or gender                     place, details regarding how any such
     minorities, older students or those                        commitments would be delivered and
     from rural backgrounds.                                    information on how progress in terms
                                                                of promoting equitable access and
     As will be evident in the results                          success was assessed.6 It resulted
     outlined below this distinction                            in a final report and an interactive
     between equitable access/success                           ‘global equity access map’ which can
     and access/success overall is not                          be found on the WAHED website at
     always clear in what differing countries                   https://worldaccesshe.com/.

     4 Atherton, G, Whitty, G & Dumangane, C (2018) Charting Equity in Higher Education: Drawing the Global Access
     Map, Pearson: London – see https://www.pearson.com/content/dam/one-dot-com/one-dot-com/global/Files/
     about-pearson/innovation/Charting-Equity_WEB.pdf
     5 ASEF (2021) ARC8 Outlook Report 2030: Inclusive and Diverse Higher Education in Asia and Europe
     6 Salmi, J. (2018) All around the world: Higher Education Equity Policies across the globe – Lumina Foundation -
     https://worldaccesshe.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/All-around-the-world-Higher-education-equity-policies-
     across-the-globe-FINAL-COPY-2.pdf

10   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
The study found that the large majority                  related to higher education equity
     of countries refer to equitable access                   and only 32% have defined targets
     or success in their higher education                     where equitable access/success is
     policy documents. However, only a                        concerned. The Salmi (2018) study
     very small majority – just over 10%,                     included 15 countries from Europe and
     have a specific policy document                          16 countries from Asia.

11   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
3    Methodology

     A total of 47 ASEM countries                             In Appendix 1 the ASEM countries
     responded to a request to complete                       which participated in the study are
     an online questionnaire which looked                     listed. For each country, an individual
     at what policy commitments in relation                   Country Brief was developed, which
     to equitable access and success exist,                   is available on the WAHED website
     how they are implemented, targets                        (https://worldaccesshe.com/research/
     with relation to equitable access/                       higher-education-equity-policies/). The
     success and their measurement and                        questionnaire used can be found in
     the impact of COVID-19 on progress                       Appendix 2.
     in making higher education more
     equitable. The survey was sent to                        In the rest of this report the responses
     national ministries with responsibility                  from the 47 ASEM countries will be
     for higher education and experts                         examined looking first at whether
     in equitable access/success in                           policies are in place to support
     higher education over the period                         equitable access/success and who
     September 2020 and July 2021 by                          they are targeted at. It then outlines
     the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF).                       the extent to which there are specific
     For Belgium, two survey responses                        policy documents which focus on
     were submitted by both the French                        equitable access/success, specific
     community (Ministry of Wallonia                          policy targets and how progress is
     Brussels Federation) and the Flemish                     measured. Finally, the engagement
     Community (Ministry of Education and                     of different stakeholder groups in the
     Training). For the United Kingdom, the                   formation of policy and the impact of
     four nations England, Scotland, Wales                    the pandemic are considered.
     and Northern Ireland were included as
     separate entities given that each has
     its own different approach to equitable
     access/success in higher education.
     The data was analysed and the report
     written by Professor Graeme Atherton,
     Director of the National Education
     Opportunities Network (NEON) in the
     United Kingdom and World Access to
     Higher Education Day (WAHED).

12   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
4     Are policies in place and who are they targeted at?
4.1   Coverage in government policy documents

      Equitable access/success in higher                       – Enhancing equal access to university
      education features somewhere in                          education in terms of socioeconomic
      government higher education policy                       and demographic characteristics
      documents where every country in
      the survey is concerned. Given the                       – Making university education
      diversity of the 47 ASEM countries                       affordable for all qualified students
      included in this study in terms of their
      size and nature of their educational                     – Sizeable government budget for
      systems the fact that in all of them                     need-based scholarship
      inequalities in participation and
      progress in higher education is seen                     – Financial aids, grants for meritorious
      as an issue is an important finding. It                  students from poor families.
      shows that this is an issue that unifies
      both Asian and European countries                        In Malaysia and its 2015-2025 Higher
      and provides the foundation for further                  Education Blueprint equity is one of
      action at both the individual country                    its 5 aspirations and it includes a
      and regional levels.                                     commitment to reduce achievement
                                                               gaps in terms of urban-rural, socio-
      How equitable access/success                             economic background and gender by
      features in different policy documents                   50%.
      does differ greatly across countries
      though as does the type of document                      In France in contrast higher education
      they feature in. Broadly speaking                        systems have a role in combating
      it features either in a legal decree                     wider social and economic inequalities
      which frames the nature of the higher                    as stated in the Education Code, and
      education system and in particular                       thus is positioned as part of a wider
      its responsibilities with regard to                      societal commitment to addressing
      discrimination/support for particular                    inequality. In other countries such
      minority groups or in a wider plan that                  as Indonesia, Mongolia, Romania
      has been established to orientate                        and Spain, a form of commitment to
      the future development of the higher                     equity is positioned with ministerial
      education system. For example, in the                    decrees or higher education law
      Bangladesh Strategic Plan for Higher                     and associated as well with anti-
      Education 2018-2030 the following                        discriminatory practice. This brief
      objectives are specified:                                overview of a selected group
                                                               of countries shows that quite
                                                               contrasting countries can have some
                                                               commonalities in their approach to
                                                               this issues and countries which may
                                                               appear to have broad similarities can
                                                               also diverge in their approach.

13    ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
4     Are policies in place and who are they targeted at?
4.2   Equitable Access/Success Target Groups

      However, while there may be evidence                     Within the countries included in the
      of some form or recognition of                           survey there are some differences
      equitable access/success as an                           between respondents in terms of the
      issue, in keeping with the findings of                   number of target groups prioritised.
      the Salmi (2018) report, countries
      then take differing, individual paths                    As Diagram 2 shows, there are a small
      in terms of their commitment to                          number of respondents that identify
      addressing this form of inequality                       over 10 priority groups. The remainder
      and how this commitment manifests                        of respondents nearly equally identify
      itself. Diagram shows the extent to                      1-5 and 6-10 groups as policy
      which differing groups are identified in                 priorities. The number of countries
      government policy documents.                             identified does not necessarily imply
                                                               a greater practical commitment.
      The diagram shows that not all                           Specifying actual equitable access/
      countries prioritise all equity groups,                  success targets and having in place
      as well as illustrating the range of                     an actual specific higher education
      equity groups that exist. Students from                  equity policy document are of greater
      lower income/lower socio-economic                        importance. These first two diagrams
      backgrounds alongside disabled                           do show though the range of different,
      students are the groups who appear                       contrasting target groups that are
      to be common across virtually every                      encompassed by equitable access/
      country but even here there will be                      success policy and practice and
      significant differences in how these                     hence the scale of the challenge that
      students are defined. Where socio-                       policymakers are setting themselves.
      economic background is concerned in
      particular, research has shown that
      this can be measured through a range
      of mechanisms including parental
      occupation, household income or via
      eligibility for state benefits.7

      7 Atherton et al (2018)

14    ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
Diagram 1
     Equitable Access/Success Target Groups

     Children of people affected by                           5
     historical violence

     Students with disabilities                               49

     Gender groups                                            27

     Indigenous populations                                   25

     Low-income or lower socio-economic                       50
     background students

     Members of the LGBT community                            10

     Older or mature learners                                 26

     Other groups under-represented in HE                     10

     People from rural backgrounds                            23

     Refugees of all kinds (internally and                    25
     externally displaced; deported)

     Students with care experience,                           24
     orphans, youth without parental care

     Victims of sexual and gender violence                    10

     Diagram 2
     No of target groups

     1 to 5                                                   22

     6 to 10                                                  25

     10+                                                      4

15   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
4     Are policies in place and who are they targeted at?
4.3   Specific equity policy documents

      Making access and success in                             which participated in the survey 13
      higher education equitable is a major                    have a specific higher education equity
      challenge. As illustrated in section                     strategy with 6 coming from Europe
      2 no country in the world appears to                     and 7 from Asia (this is a higher %
      have achieved it and it is complex                       of countries than found in the 2018
      challenge involving groups with quite                    Salmi study however). These countries
      differing characteristics. In this                       are listed below:
      context, a specific set of policies that
      builds on legal frameworks or higher                     Australia, Austria, Belgium, China,
      education sector strategies may be                       Croatia, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Korea,
      needed. The existence of a separate                      Lao PDR, Malaysia, New Zealand,
      strategy therefore, could in principle                   Romania, United Kingdom (England,
      be seen as welcome. However, it                          Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales).
      does not on its own guarantee that
      progress will be made, nor does its                      Not all these strategies are equally
      absence necessarily imply a lack                         detailed and comprehensive. Austria,
      of commitment to making higher                           Croatia and Ireland have particularly
      education participation more equal.                      well-developed strategy documents. In
      Countries such as Bangladesh, the                        Australia and the nations of the United
      Czech Republic, France, Malaysia,                        Kingdom there is a significant amount
      New Zealand and Romania have made                        of work being undertaken with regard
      clear expressions of commitment                          to equitable access/success and
      via broader higher education policy                      different forms of strategic approaches
      documents and do not have a specific                     exist. Whilst in the remaining countries
      equity policy document. In Finland and                   there is evidence of distinct policy
      Norway equity in higher education is                     commitments additional to what
      seen as something integrated into all                    may be stated in national higher
      aspects of higher education policy and                   education strategies/legal frameworks
      practice thus a separate strategy is                     the evidence provided through the
      not needed.                                              responses to the survey as regard to
                                                               the nature of these commitments is
      Nevertheless, specific policies may                      less detailed.
      play an important role here. They
      create a focus on this issue and a                       In order to understand better what a
      mechanism of levering in commitment                      national strategy focused specifically
      from policymakers and in particular                      on equitable access/success in higher
      higher education providers.                              education may include then in Box 1
                                                               the Austrian ‘National Strategy on the
      But this survey has found, as did                        Social Dimension of Higher Education
      the Salmi (2018) report that only a                      Strategy’ is outlined.
      minority of countries have such a
      strategy. Of the 47 ASEM countries

16    ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
Box 1
     Equitable Access/Success strategy in Austria

     The ‘National Strategy on the Social Dimension of Higher Education’ was launched
     in 2017. It was developed over a two year period utilising data from the 2015
     national student social survey which collected information on the background
     of students and their progress through higher education and through a process
     of workshops and consultation with a range of key stakeholders. Three ‘target
     dimensions each underpinned by three goals as described below:

     Target
     Dimension       I         More inclusive access

                               Improve quality and accessibility of information materials

                               Outreach activities and diversity-sensitive course guidance

                               Recognition and validation of non-formal and informal skills.

     Target
     Dimension       II        Avoiding drop-out and improving academic success

                               Ease entry into higher education

                               Structure of study programmes and quality of teaching

                               Increase compatibility of studies with other areas of life

     Target
     Dimension       III       Creating basic parameters and optimizing the regulation of
                               higher education policy

                               System-related issues in higher education

                               Integrate the social dimension into strategic planning for higher
                               education and create appropriate governance structures

                               Further develop the Student Support Scheme

     The strategy is delivered via performance agreements between the Federal
     Ministry and each of the 22 public universities. To ensure the implementation of
     measures outlined in the agreements the federal minister can retain up to 0.5% of
     a university’s overall budget. There is an interim evaluation of the national strategy
     planned for 2021 and a final evaluation for 2025.

17   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
4     Are policies in place and who are they targeted at?
4.4.1 Equity policy targets

       Along with a specific policy focused                     Amongst the countries with targets,
       on equitable access/success                              the majority of these focus on
       another expression of strong policy                      addressing inequalities in access/
       commitment would be specific                             success related to ethnicity, gender
       targets related to the participation                     and socio-economic group. Where
       of particular priority groups in higher                  gender is concerned in two countries
       education and/or their attainment                        – France and Germany targets are
       in higher education or progression                       in place related to the participation
       afterwards. As Diagram 3 shows, of                       of female students entering science
       the 51 responses to the survey only                      related subjects. It is noticeable
       16 indicated the existence of such                       though that despite students with
       targets.                                                 disability being a priority group in every
                                                                country in the survey, only 3 countries
                                                                have targets for such students.

18     ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
Diagram 3
     Number of respondents who have/do not have equity
     policy targets

     Yes                                                      16

     No                                                       35

19   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
4     Are policies in place and who are they targeted at?
4.4.2 Equitable access and success plans/performance
      agreements

       A small number of countries with a                       arrangement. Of the countries with
       strong focus on equitable access/                        such plans – 6 are from Europe with
       success in higher education have                         the 4 nations from the United Kingdom
       introduced plans/performance                             and the others are Austria and Croatia
       agreements specifically in this area.                    and 2 are from Asia being Australia
       There are 8 countries who have such                      and New Zealand. Box 2 describes
       agreements and Finland is working                        how the Access and Participation (APP)
       toward the development of such                           system in England works.

20     ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
Box 2
     Access and Participation Plans in England

     Access and participation plans set out how higher education institutions will
     improve equality of opportunity for underrepresented groups to access, succeed in
     and progress from higher education. They include:

                               –   the institution’s ambition for change
                               –   what it plans to do to achieve that change
                               –   the targets it has set
                               –   the investment it will make to deliver the plan.

     They are monitored by the Office for Students (OfS) which is the body that
     oversees and regulates higher education in England. The role of the Ofs is to make
     sure that the providers honour the commitments they make to students in these
     plans, and take action if they do not. If providers want to charge a tuition fee over
     £6000 per year, their plans must be approved by the Director for Fair Access and
     Participation who works for the OfS. A plan is submitted for a 5 year period.

     The activities in the plan will include both what are described in this report below
     as ‘non-monetary’ and ‘monetary instruments’ i.e. any preferential admission
     arrangements for specific equity groups, outreach work and scholarship
     programmes. The plans include not just work to support greater entry into higher
     education for target groups but also to enable them to achieve their potential
     in higher education. A key part of the plan is evidence of strategic commitment
     to equitable access/success from the higher education institution. This means
     showing that this work is built into the planning structures of the institution and
     responsibility for targets in the plan are held at senior management level.

     The plan must include quantitative targets to address the individual challenges
     of the institution showing how many more students they will admit each year
     from target groups. Activities both monetary and non monetary are funded by the
     institution itself from the fee income it receives.

21   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
22   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
5    How are policy objectives achieved?

     There are a number of ways in which                       attainment and provide them with
     policy targets in the field of equitable                  careers/higher education progression
     access/success can be achieved, but                       advice. Also included in this category
     a demarcation that has been used                          of work are special considerations/
     effectively in previous international                     pathways for students from priority
     research studies is between ‘non-                         groups to progress to higher
     monetary’ and ‘financial’ instruments.8                   education. Financial instruments
     Non-monetary instruments include                          included bursaries, scholarships and
     outreach work where higher education                      loans which are provided for specific
     institutions work with students from                      priority groups.
     equity priority groups to support their

     8 Herbaut, E & Koen, G (2019) What Works to Reduce Inequalities in Higher Education? A Systematic Review of
     the (Quasi-Experimental Literature on Outreach and Financial Aid, Policy Research Working Paper World Bank

23   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
Diagram 4
     Non-monetary equitable access/success instruments

     Yes                                                      34

     No                                                       17

     Diagram 5
     Non-monetary equitable access/success instruments

     Special institutions                                     2

     Bridging programmes                                      4

     Specific pathways                                        2

     Preferential admission                                   19

     Outreach programmes                                      15

24   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
5     How are policy objectives achieved?
5.1   Non-monetary instruments

      As Diagram 4 shows for two-third of                      study places will be filled on the
      respondents their higher education                       basis of matriculation grades, and
      institutions are engaged in systematic                   in universities of applied sciences
      work of a non-monetary nature or                         on the basis of matriculation grades
      such programmes are funded by                            and vocational upper secondary
      central government and delivered on a                    qualification. Selection based on
      national basis.                                          common marks obtained from the
                                                               selection test and the grades will be
      The nature of the non-monetary                           abandoned.
      activities undertaken are illustrated
      in Diagram 5. Some respondents                           Russian Federation
      indicated more than one activity.                        According to paragraph 2 of article
                                                               34 of the Federal Law „On Education
      As can be seen the most frequent                         in the Russian Federation“ special
      practice pursued by different                            rights in admission to higher education
      governments is some form of                              institutions are granted to the
      preferential admission arrangement                       following groups of persons: orphans
      for priority groups which includes a                     and children left without parental care,
      set quota for entrance by one specific                   children with disabilities, people with
      group. Examples of how preferential                      disabilities, citizens under the age of
      admissions work in practice are                          twenty who have only one parent with
      outlined below:                                          disabilities and with a low income,
                                                               children of military personnel who died
      Ireland                                                  in the line of their military service,
      Separate admission schemes for                           military veterans, participants in
      students with disabilities (Disability                   military operations.
      Access Route to Education, DARE)
      and for school-leavers from socio-                       Thailand
      economically disadvantaged                               A quota for ethnic and local students
      backgrounds (Higher Education Access                     exists among certain public and
      Route, HEAR) exist. HEAR and DARE                        autonomous higher education
      are joint initiatives agreed between                     institutions.
      the higher education institutions
      themselves and originally seed funded                    Outreach activities are relatively
      by the government but are now funded                     frequent where the kind of non-
      by the higher education instututions.                    monetary instruments implementd
      They offer places in higher education                    are concerned but still only taken
      at lower entry requirements to eligible                  forward by a minority of respondents.
      students.                                                When delivered consistently over time
                                                               evidence shows that outreach work
      Finland                                                  can have a real impact on equitable
      From 2020, more than half of the                         access to higher education.9 In some

      9 Herbaut & Koen (2019)

25    ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
countries, for example Sweden and                        aims to develop the academic
     also the nations of the United Kingdom                   ambitions of middle and high school
     the higher education institutions                        students and broaden their horizons,
     themselves have the primary                              introducing them to the diversity of
     responsibility for undertaking (although                 possible paths to higher education.
     in the UK there are also centrally                       The scheme is targeted at students
     funded outreach programmes).                             attending secondary schools in urban
     Outlined below are 5 examples of how                     underprivileged neighbourhoods
     governments are supporting coherent,                     or isolated rural areas, as well as
     targeted outreach programmes at the                      vocational secondary school students.
     national level.                                          It is based on partnerships between
                                                              higher education institutions and
     Australia                                                secondary schools. The aim is to
     The Higher Education Partnership                         provide comprehensive support
     and Policy Programme (HEPP)                              including support social and cultural
     was introduced in 2011. It now                           outreach and tutoring/mentoring
     provides funding to universities                         actions on the other. There is a
     to increase the participation of                         continuum of support starting for
     domestic students from low socio-                        13-year-olds and up to their entry to
     economic backgrounds in accredited                       higher education, with the objective to
     undergraduate qualifications, and                        making guidance support a real lever
     support the retention and success of                     for equal opportunities.
     those students. Funding is allocated
     to universities by formula, based                        Malaysia
     on the number of students from                           The MOHE hold a series of tours
     low SES backgrounds enrolled at                          throughout the country working with
     each university. In the wake of the                      HEIs to disseminate information on,
     pandemic, in late 2020 the Australian                    higher education opportunities in
     Parliament passed the legislation for                    HEIs and other agencies related to
     the Job-ready Graduates Package.                         higher education; admission to higher
     As part of the Job-ready Graduates                       education nationwide and procedures
     package, from 2021 the HEPPP has                         and requirement for program
     been refocused to support students                       admission offered by the HEIs and
     who are from regional Australia,                         programmes intake policy by HEIs.
     remote Australia, Aboriginal and/or
     Torres Strait Islander backgrounds and                   Romania
     from low socio-economic backgrounds.                     The Ministry of Education and
                                                              Research carries out the Romania
                                                              Secondary Education Project (ROSE)
     France                                                   Project, in which students at risk
     The „cord for success“ scheme                            take part in university activities, by

26   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
attending summer schools organized                       innovative study opportunities and
     at different universities in the country.                learning pathways to higher education.
     Students can participate in workshops,                   Three regional Reaching Wider
     study visits, sports competitions                        Partnerships lead activities in North
     and cultural events directly related                     and Mid Wales, South West Wales
     university life over a two/three week                    and South East Wales. All higher
     period. The ROSE project is worth a                      and further education institutions in
     total of 200 million euros.                              Wales are members of Reaching Wider
                                                              Partnerships. Other regional partners
     United Kingdom/Wales                                     vary, but include local authorities,
     Established in 2002/03 as a                              employers, schools, the voluntary
     Wales-wide, collaborative, long-term                     sector and Careers Wales.
     programme to widen access to higher                      It is also notable that in two countries
     education and higher-level skills, the                   – China and New Zealand there are
     Reaching Wider Programme aims to                         special higher education institutions
     increase higher education participation                  that have been created to cater for
     from priority groups and communities                     specific ethnic groups.
     in Wales by raising educational
     aspirations and skills, and creating

27   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
5     How are policy objectives achieved?
5.2   Financial Instruments

      Of the 51 respondents 48 described                       provide additional funding for higher
      some form of financial support for                       education institutions to undertake
      students from equity priority groups.                    activities such as outreach with
      As with non-monetary instruments,                        students from equity groups whilst
      each country has its own individual                      Germany, as well as having no
      approach and some offer more than                        students tuition fees, provides a
      one form of financial assistance. In                     range of grant/loan support. There
      Diagram 6, the frequency of different                    are examples of financial support
      forms of support is outlined. Some                       offered by Asian nations provided by
      respondents described more than one                      respondents though with Korea for
      form of financial support.                               example offering scholarships for low
                                                               income students which enable them
      Scholarships are by far the most                         to also work whilst studying, study
      common form of financial support                         abroad and pursue particular subject
      offered. These scholarships are                          disciplines.
      offered mainly to low income students
      and those with disabilities and                          Financial instruments to support
      less commonly those from specific                        equitable access/success need to
      ethnic groups including refugees.                        be seen in a context where the cost
      The scholarships can be attached to                      of higher education differs hugely
      performance thus being available for                     across Asia and Europe ranging from
      the most able students e.g. in Cyprus,                   countries where tuition is free to the
      Czech Republic and the Russian                           most expensive on average country
      Federation.                                              in the world (England). Addressing
                                                               financial barriers to progression is
      Less frequently provided forms of                        a necessary, but not on its own a
      support are grants and loans which                       sufficient approach to promoting
      can support students in either                           equitable access/success. Any form
      paying student tuition fees or their                     of financial assistance is welcome for
      living costs with less than a third                      students from equity priority groups
      of countries offering grants and                         but performance based scholarships
      only just over 20% loans. The most                       will inevitably favour only a certain
      comprehensive packages of support                        proportion of any cohort and miss out
      are found in Europe with Belgium,                        others. They need to sit alongside the
      France and Hungary offering support                      wider provision of financial support in
      for students with housing costs.                         the form of grants/loans.
      Ireland, France and Romania also

28    ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
Diagram 6
     Different forms of financial support offered to students

     Scholarships                                             30

     Grants                                                   17

     Loans                                                    13

29   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
30   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
6    How does policy formation work?

     Addressing inequalities in access/                       As was discussed above a minority,
     success in higher education is                           around a third, of countries
     inherently a multi stakeholder effort.                   are working with international
     It requires work partnership between                     organisations. Respondents were also
     schools, higher education institutions,                  asked about how such organisations
     insights from students and civil                         could play a greater role in supporting
     society organisations have a key role                    the development of equitable access/
     to play engaging with different priority                 success policies. This study adds
     groups. As Diagram 7 shows there is                      to the growing amount of evidence
     a considerable amount of engagement                      that points to equitable access
     from different stakeholders in how                       and success in higher education
     policies are formed across Asia and                      being a challenge that is shared
     Europe.                                                  across countries and one that is
                                                              achieving increasing attention from
     Virtually all countries engage with                      policymakers. As in other parts of the
     their Higher Education Institution                       higher education field international
     associations, and a large majority                       dialogue and sharing of knowledge/
     (around two thirds) with student                         practice can play an important role
     organisations. This engagement with                      in enabling individual countries to
     students is also relatively evenly split                 better utilise the resources they have
     across the two continents. Private                       to address the issue. Diagram 8
     sector organisations seem to be                          outlines 4 areas in which respondents
     engaged in more countries than those                     were asked to rank in terms of how
     from civil society and only a minority                   valuable they thought the contribution
     work with international organisations                    of inter-governmental/international
     on policy formulation. Only 2 countries                  organisations could be from 4 (most
     mentioned working with unions and                        valuable) to 1 (least valuable). It
     one only with schools. There may                         shows that respondents perceive
     be considerable potential to extend                      policy setting to be the area where
     engagement with these groups given                       inter-governmental/international
     that they have such an important                         organisations have the greatest role
     role to play in supporting students to                   to play. However, the combined rank
     progress to higher education. Overall,                   scores across the 4 areas are within
     further work would be valuable to                        a fairly close range. This shows that
     explore in more detail how these                         to some extent these organisations
     different stakeholders are engaged                       can support different countries in
     in policy formation across different                     each of these areas dependent on
     countries and the added value such                       the particular circumstances of that
     engagement brings.                                       country.

31   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
Diagram 7
     Stakeholder engagement in policy formation

     International associations                                16

     Civil Society organisations                               23

     Private sector organisations                              31

     Student associations                                      38

     Higher Education Institutions                             48
     Associations

     Diagram 8
     Role of inter-governmental/international organisations in
     supporting equitable access/success

     Area of contribution                                     Combined score across all countries
                                                              (4 most valuable to 1 least valuable)

     Policy setting                                            128

     Facilitating peer learning/exchange of                    117
     experience across countries

     Financial assistance/grants/loan                          109
     financing/scholarships

     Technical assistance and capacity                         93
     building

32   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
7    How is progress measured?

     Putting in place systems to capture                      The monitoring of progress in this area
     the progress being made in enabling                      is a challenge in many countries for
     equitable access/success and                             the reasons outlined above but unless
     also the impact of differing policy                      impact can be established then it will
     interventions is vital. However,                         be difficult to secure further resources
     previous work has shown that such                        and policy commitments. There is a
     data collection systems can take                         potential role for inter-governmental/
     significant time and resource to                         international organisations to
     develop and for cultural or legal                        support the policy setting/exchange
     reasons it is very difficult in some                     of practice highlighted above in this
     countries to collect information on                      area. Countries could benefit from
     the progression into/through higher                      learning more about how others are
     education for particular equity                          building evaluation into specific policy
     priority groups.10 As Diagram 9                          initiatives and also collecting data
     shows the majority of respondents                        on the progress into and through
     are undertaking activities related                       higher education of equity priority
     to the systematic collection of data                     groups within resource and cultural
     on students progressing into higher                      constraints.
     education but only a minority are
     collecting such information with regard
     to priority equity groups.

     10 Atherton et al (2018)

33   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
Diagram 9
     Monitoring of equitable access/success and data
     collection

     Data collected on students from                          15
     priority equity groups

     Data collected on all students                           36

34   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
8    What has the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic been on
     policies related to equitable access and success?

     The pandemic has had a seismic                             and a COVID-19 grant to support
     impact on higher education across                          disadvantaged students in accessing
     the world, but it has borne down                           ICT devices.
     particularly on those students from
     minority or disadvantaged majority                         New Zealand
     backgrounds.11 Of the 51 respondents                       In response to the COVID-19
     only 8 felt that it had not had a                          pandemic, and its impact on Pacific
     significant impact on such students                        learners, the Ministry of Education
     and in 3 cases they were still awaiting                    established the Pacific Education
     data to be collected to establish the                      Support Fund and the Pacific
     nature of this impact. The answers                         Education Innovation Fund. The
     to this question focused in particular                     Support Fund aims to help fund
     on the need to support students from                       community providers, groups, and
     equity priority groups in terms of digital                 organisations that help learners, and
     access to teaching/learning resources                      their families, meet education and
     and also providing additional financial                    wellbeing needs arising from, and/
     resources.                                                 or exacerbated by COVID-19. The
     A number of respondents described                          Innovation Fund provides targeted
     activities which were undertaken                           funding to support innovative practices
     to support students affected by                            that support Pacific learners’ wellbeing
     the pandemic to progress to higher                         and curriculum needs, where they
     education or succeed/complete their                        have been impacted by COVID-19. The
     studies. Examples of such activities                       Innovation Fund is open to educators,
     are described below:                                       places of learning, community groups,
                                                                providers, researchers and academics.
     Ireland
     In response to the COVID-19                                Vietnam
     pandemic, the Government announced                         Due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
     a €168 million once-off support                            two periods of university entrance
     package for higher education                               examinations were established. The
     institutions and students in July 2020.                    exams in those areas affected by the
     This funding included a doubling of the                    pandemic were also conducted later
     Student Assistance Fund which is the                       compared to that in the other areas
     money allocated for students who are                       across the country as were enrolment
     experiencing financial difficulties when                   and admissions at universities.
     studying; a COVID-19 Contingency
     Fund to enhance the delivery of                            The pandemic is still exerting a huge
     access and support services for                            influence on higher education, but
     vulnerable students from target groups                     this influence will one day abate.

     11 Atherton, G (2020) University Access, Student Success and COVID-19 in a Global Context, London: Sutton Trust
     - https://www.suttontrust.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Covid-and-Global-University-Access.pdf

35   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
What is crucial looking forward are                      they need to act as a platform for an
     the implications of the pandemic                         enhanced commitment to equity in
     for equitable access/success over                        higher education and a permanent
     the next decade. The activities                          recognition of the challenges priority
     described earlier were important but                     groups face.

36   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
37   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
9    Key Findings

     In all countries higher education equity                 There is some form of additional
     features in government produced                          financial support available for students
     higher education policy documents.                       from equity target groups identified
                                                              by 47 of the 51 respondents who
     Less than a third of countries – 30%                     participated in the study. The most
     have specific higher education equity                    common form of support offered
     strategy with 6 from Europe and 7                        though is a scholarship which is only
     from Asia.                                               available to certain cohorts or any
                                                              equity target group and usually the
     There are 8 countries with equitable                     most able.
     access and success plans/
     performance agreements.                                  Almost all – over 90% of countries
                                                              consult with higher education
     The most common equity target                            associations in the formation of
     groups are lower income/socio-                           equitable access/success policy but
     economic background students and                         less than half consult with civic society
     students with disabilities.                              organisations.

     There are 28 countries where at least                    Inter-governmental/international
     6 different equity target groups are                     organisations should focus on policy
     identified.                                              setting and facilitating peer learning/
                                                              exchange of experience if they want to
     Only 34% of countries have specific                      maximise the support they can offer
     targets related to the access and                        in formulating effective policy in this
     success in higher education of equity                    area.
     target groups.
                                                              In 84% of countries COVID-19 has had
     Over two-thirds – 68% of countries are                   a significant impact on policies related
     supporting non-monetary equitable                        to equitable access and success.
     access/success instruments of which
     the most common are preferential
     admission arrangements followed by
     national outreach programmes.

38   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
10   Summary

     Equitable access/success in higher                       participation that can afford to develop
     education is recognized as a universal                   coherent policy approaches focussed
     issue across the 47 ASEM countries                       on equitable access/success. There
     who participated in this study.                          are examples of smaller countries
     However, a detailed focus on the issue                   from different income brackets who
     via specific policy documents related                    have placed policy focus on this
     to the issue or targets that relate to                   issue. There is a need for further
     access or success in higher education                    work to assist countries from across
     for particular target groups is far from                 the income/participation spectrum
     universal. Similarly, while virtually every              in developing policies in this area
     country has some form of additional                      but the foundations are there which
     financial support in place for equity                    can be built on through dialogue and
     groups only a minority are pursuing                      collaboration.
     the use of non-monetary instruments
     in a systematic way. The study shows                     Further work is required, though
     the complexity of the challenge that                     is substantial in nature and is not
     policymakers face with every country                     confined to a focus on a particular
     prioritising at least 2 target groups                    sub-set of countries from Asia or
     and the majority at least 5. To make                     Europe. As Salmi (2018) indicated in
     a significant difference implementing                    his study, and his follow up research in
     non-discrimination legislation and                       2019 which took a more detailed look
     funding a scholarship programme are                      at policy/practice in a small number of
     unlikely to be sufficient.                               countries, establishing the evidence
                                                              base which can point to which policies
     Fortunately, there are some excellent                    deliver the most impact for investment
     examples of what more well developed                     is a major challenge. It is vital as
     policy approaches in this field look                     Salmi argued as well that we look
     like and a recognition of the value                      to identify what policy commitments
     of international dialogue to form                        really mean and identify where they
     relationships of mutual support which                    are supported by real investment
     can enable countries to construct                        and effort and where this is less so.
     approaches that work in their own                        This study provides the platform for
     particular context. These examples                       this work though. There are networks
     are drawn from both Asia and Europe.                     of organisations/groups that work
     It is a fact that participation in higher                with national governments and are
     education per head of the population                     able to lead this further, including
     is on average higher in Europe and                       the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF),
     a significant number of European                         World Access to Higher Education
     countries are able to fund higher                        Day (WAHED) and the European
     education well. However, this does not                   Commission Working Group on the
     mean that it is only richer countries or                 Social Dimension.
     countries with a high higher education

39   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
As we hopefully take the tentative                       see existing inequalities in access/
     steps across two continents to emerge                    success in higher education only
     from the shadow of the pandemic it                       worsen. There is the opportunity to
     is vital this work is done. The risk is                  avoid this, but to do so action must be
     that the post-pandemic period will                       taken now.

     Recommendations

     1.                                                       4.
     ASEM countries should explore the                        Non-monetary instruments and
     production of specific strategies to                     outreach work should be extended
     address equitable access/success in                      via pilot work led at the national/
     higher education with clear progress                     institutional level.
     targets learning from established
     practices in other Asian and European                    5.
     nations.                                                 A suitable ASEM platform/forum to
                                                              share practice and policy development
     2.                                                       in equitable access/success amongst
     Schools and teaching unions should                       policymakers should established in
     be more closely involved in the                          partnership with appropriate inter-
     development of equitable access/                         governmental/international bodies.
     success policies.
                                                              6.
     3.                                                       Progress in the development of
     Monitoring/evaluation and data                           effective equitable access/success in
     collection has to be built into the                      higher education policies should be
     development of equitable access/                         reported on bi-annually via a Higher
     success polices and the production of                    Education Policy Study report, to be
     international standards and practices                    presented at ASEM Senior Officials
     in the field explored.                                   Meetings and ASEM Education
                                                              Ministerial Meetings.

40   ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
A     Appendices
A.1   Participating ASEM countries in the
      National Equity Policy Survey12

      01       Australia                                          25       Lithuania
      02       Austria                                            26       Luxembourg
      03       Bangladesh                                         27       Malaysia
      04       Belgium13                                          28       Malta
      05       Brunei Darussalam                                  29       Mongolia
      06       Bulgaria                                           30       Myanmar
      07       Cambodia                                           31       New Zealand
      08       China                                              32       the Netherlands
      09       Croatia                                            33       Norway
      10       Cyprus                                             34       the Philippines
      11       Czech Republic                                     35       Poland
      12       Estonia                                            36       Portugal
      13       Finland                                            37       Romania
      14       France                                             38       Russian Federation
      15       Germany                                            39       Singapore
      16       Greece                                             40       Slovakia
      17       Hungary                                            41       Slovenia
      18       Indonesia                                          42       Spain
      19       Ireland                                            43       Sweden
      20       Japan                                              44       Switzerland
      21       Kazakhstan                                         45       Thailand
      22       Korea                                              46       United Kingdom14
      23       Lao PDR                                            47       Viet Nam
      24       Latvia

      12 For all countries, responses from the respective Ministry of Education or Higher Education Authority were
      received and included except for Bangladesh, Croatia, England, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Northern Ireland, Scotland
      and Wales within the timeframe of the survey outreach. For these countries, higher education or other education
      institutions provided the survey responses.
      13 For Belgium, two survey responses were submitted by both the French community (Ministry of Wallonia
      Brussels Federation) and the Flemish Community (Ministry of Education and Training).
      14 For the United Kingdom, the four nations England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were included
      as separate entities given that each has its own different approach to equitable access/success in higher
      education.

41    ASEM National Equity Policies in Higher Education 2021
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