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Intergenerational Mentoring and Widening Participation in Higher Education

Wilson, Alastair and Hunter, Katie and McArthur, Katie (2018) Intergenerational Mentoring and Widening Participation in Higher Education. [Report]

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Analysis of data on school leavers in Scotland shows considerable inequality in access to university higher education. This is particularly acute for young people who are first in their generation to consider university. These students include those experiencing ongoing socio-economic disadvantage as well as those who are from working class families. Nowhere is this inequality more apparent than when looking at access to highly competitive courses such as medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry and law. The result is that in some communities in Scotland very few young people, if any, will progress into these and other higher professions. In fact in sum, Scotland now lags behind the rest of the UK in terms of social mobility and access to higher education. Alan Milburn, the former Chair of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has warned that ‘there is a risk that Scotland will sleepwalk into a social mobility crisis unless urgent action is taken” (November, 2015). There is now a need to develop innovative research-informed practice in the area of widening participation. Intergenerational mentoring offers a research-informed response that can make an important contribution to this policy agenda.