Widening participation is the policy to increase the number of students going on to university, with particular emphasis on those from under-represented groups such as from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Fair access is a component of widening participation, it is the policy that sets out to ensure each student gains access to a university that specifically meets their needs and abilities.
Over the past ten or so years there has been considerable improvement in widening participation but fair access remains a challenge, particularly in relation to the most able young people gaining places at top universities.
Social mobility is people moving from one socio-economic level up to another which is a sign of greater equality of opportunity in society. Social mobility is fostered by fair access since those with a university education tend to have higher income, more self-esteem, better health and higher life expectancy than their peers. In addition to benefiting the individuals concerned, it impacts positively on the economic and social well-being of the nation.
The greatest level of underachievement and the most inequality is found amongst young people with high ability from disadvantaged backgrounds. At Villiers Park Educational Trust we address this problem.