Inclusivity and Diversity in
Opportunities, Troubles or
Sarra Saffron Powell
A quick riddle….
A father and son are in car crash. The father is
killed instantly, the boy is critically ill, is taken by
ambulance and rushed to theatre. The surgeon
takes one look at him and says, “I can’t operate
on him, he’s my son!”
How can this be?
Inclusivity, I would argue…
Inclusivity = “Value concept” (conceptual noun/to do with values)
When we are presented with a value – we tend to incorporate it into
an existing value system (“interpretative filter”, - Brook field, 1998 and measure worth (how does this fit in my value system; do I value
this?) = positionality – we tend to take a position
Inclusivity = “Value concept” + positionality
In a value framework – we are nudged towards considering the worth
of our current values (critical self-reflection) :
Inclusivity= “Value concept” + value framework + positionality +
criticality + reflection = ?
= Opportunities, Troubles or Tensions?
Opportunities, Troubles or Tensions?
? = your personal pedagogical position
Dependant of a range of factors:
• Your notions of the FUNCTION of Higher Education
• Your notions about your ROLE as an educator
• Your curriculum design and assessment design DECISIONS
explore these in relation to concepts of inclusion and diversity
in a critically reflective frame.
Let’s start with a definition
• What is inclusivity?
• not excluding any section of society or any
party involved in something
• (of language) deliberately avoiding usages
that could be seen as excluding a particular
(Oxford Online Dictionary)
“Discourses” of Inclusion
“At a time when prevailing neo-liberal policy aims to
position higher education as an economic venture and
students as customers, discourses of inclusion are vital.
Terms such as access, widening
participation, equity, equality and diversity, and lifelong
learning commonly feature in discourses of inclusion
related to higher education. The shifting meanings and
fluid uses of these terms serve as an indication of
the increasing tensions between neo-liberal economic
forces and the role of higher education in modern
Widening Participation Conference 2012 - Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education
The notion of ‘fair access’ has its roots in liberal
concerns to promote access to higher education to
individuals from ‘disadvantaged’ backgrounds who
are deemed to have high levels of potential ability.
In recent years, admissions policies and practice
have become an explicit focus of national policy in
the UK, underpinned by concerns to promote fair
access to all students recognised as having the
potential to benefit from HE.
Fair Access? Research on admissions to higher education
HEA Governance – you won’t pass your PGCert
assignments without it.
What else is inclusivity responding to?
Why is inclusivity important?
Why is inclusivity important?
“Promote participation in higher education and
equality of opportunity for learners” (HEA, 2012)
Fees (economic contracts and consumer choice)
Access Agreements (Panel on Fair Access to the
NSS – Guild agendas
Russell Group Competitors
UoL Strategy and Policy (Strategic Aims)
Improving Student Experience
Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR)
Internationalisation (global economy)
Professional Bodies and Councils
Co/extra curricula (Liverpool Life)
Employers – CBI skill sets
Low economic growth ……
What is widening participation (WP?)
• Major structural/cultural challenge to HEIs, requiring
higher rates of involvement and rates of achievement
to those who have been traditionally underrepresented and systematically excluded
Inclusivity is an attempt to address systematic occlusion
to the right of education
= REMOVING BARRIERS
WP - inheritance
Gov. targets (2006) 50% participation rate 18-30 year old in
HE by 2015
Low - Socio
HEFCE strategic objectives
Some drivers and legislation
Enhancing the student experience?
Quota of Students
“Toxic correlations/Access and social
Or “Reality check”?
Professor Louise Morley
University of Sussex, UK
Widening Participation Conference 2012 Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education
Engagement in university culture ‘student
• Physical barriers
• Lit. indicates identity ‘simple sense of belonging’
– is key.
• Russell group cf post-1992 HEIs = exceptionally
• Russell group cf Russell group = exceptionally
• WP a key strategic aim
• High levels of resourcing
• HEA inclusive cultures programme – high levels of
• Go Higher access programme (revised, resourced)
• Policy auditing/implementation
• Student representation (LGoS)
• Student support infrastructure (student services)
• Student support learning skills development
• Curriculum Review/design (diversifying
assessment, delivery, internationalising curricula)
• Teaching qualifications (improving teaching
• Induction Review (transition support)
• Peer mentoring system
• Faculty Skills Advisors
• Development of Digital Literacies/elearning
• Inclusive pedagogy = good practice
• takes a coherent approach which is anticipatory and
• has a strategy for delivering equal opportunities and
• involves the whole institution
• matches provision to student needs
• incorporates regular reflection, review and refinement
of strategies and methods that actively involve disabled
And where are you in all this?
[hand out on dichotomies for reflection]
Barnett R. (2000) ‘University knowledge in an age of supercomplexity ‘, Higher Education 40: 409–422
Brookfield, S., (1998) Critically Reflective Practice, The Journal of Continuing Education in the Health
Professions, 18, pp. 197-255
Morley L., (2012) Widening Participation Conference 2012 - Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education
Gosling D., (2002) Models Of Peer Observation of Teaching, Learning and Teaching Support Network Generic
Beyond Prejudice: Inclusive learning in practice from the Learning and Skills Development Agency
offers strategic and practical pointers for the provision of an inclusive learning environment.
DEMOS: Online Materials For Staff Disability Awareness (2002) is an online resource aimed at
academic staff, and examines the issues faced by disabled students in higher
education. Modification of examination and assessment arrangments are also discussed.
Engineering Subject Centre Guide to Working with Disabled Students (2nd Edition June 2005)
includes practical ideas and case studies.
Premia resource base awareness and development materials are for everyone involved in making
the research environment more accessible for disabled students.
SCIPS (Strategies for the Creation of Inclusive Programmes of Study) database provides information
to support academic staff in improving access to the curriculum for disabled students.
SENDA compliance in Higher Education: an audit and guidance tool to accessible practice within the
framework of teaching and learning 2002, including a useful section on assessment.
Teachability (2000) offers information and resources for academic staff to help in the provision of
an accessible curriculum.
Techdis has relevant resources and references, including a database of information and products to
assist disabled students and staff.
University of Bristol Access Unit provides fact sheets for supporting disabled students.
University of Wolverhampton - Learning, teaching and assessment: good practice guides for staff
teaching d/Deaf students in art, design and communication and in science and engineering.