In their recent journal article published in Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, Todd Walton and Franz Carrillo analyse an Australian national policy aimed at widening participation to research intensive universities.

The authors argue that a ‘deficit discourse’ (also identified by McKay and Devlin, 2016) persists in such policies, and suggest that the key dimension to widen participation remains the identification of school factors which influence pupil outcomes. Their thought-provoking article poses the following questions:

•             How important is the role of transparency when defining equity access schemes?

•             What should be the relative weights for each of the factors involved in contextual admission?

•             To what extent can the method of applying to equity schemes improve or undermine its results?

We would add another broader question, for readers of our international journal to consider:

•             Does the ‘deficit discourse’ highlighted in the article apply to some of the widening participation approaches in your country’s HE sector?

 We welcome your comments, reflections and challenges, both here on our blog, and on Twitter @access_observe #deficitdiscourse

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