Creating a positive environment for widening participation: A taxonomy for socially just higher education policy and practice

Gina Wisker, Rachel Masika

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Higher education (HE) systems sustain and reproduce inequalities despite intentions to redress them. However, widening participation rooted in social justice practices increases participation in HE for marginalised under-represented groups through overt, shared and practised values in action and mobilization of HE interests and resources. Drawing on interviews with senior managers, teaching, research, academic/educational development staff and students at six South African universities (2012-16) and scrutiny of literature, our study contributes to cross-country learning by developing a taxonomy of social justice practices: epistemological access; values-oriented curriculum; critical pedagogies and professionalism; student engagement and belonging; critical enquiry and communities of practice; ethical leadership and strategic embedding of practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-84
Number of pages29
JournalHigher Education Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • higher education
  • widening participation
  • social justice
  • UK
  • South Africa

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