Analytical Reflections on Access in English Higher Education: Transnational Lessons across the Pond

Lorenzo Dubois Baber, Beverly Lindsay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent policy trends in international higher education suggest that the dichotomy between selective and widening participation is a global issue. The central premise of this article considers the historical and contemporary challenge of promoting higher education opportunities across socio-economic distinctions in England. Three critical questions are considered: (1) How did historical developments of higher education in England during the twentieth century, including American influences after the Second World War, shape the contemporary debate on widening participation? (2) Have the purposes of higher education altered as access shifts from elite to mass? and (3) What critical philosophies influence higher education purposes and developments, and might more balanced viewpoints assist policy makers in crafting decisions? Thus, we can garner a greater comprehension of how educational policies in the twentieth century redefined the role of higher education, contributing to the debate concerning the definition of public good –social contribution for the larger society versus economic return for the individuals. In analyzing this debate, the article also: (1) explicates watershed policies, including major education acts since the 1940s; (2) examines shifting post-secondary roles via Trow's typology of higher education development – elite, mass, and universal; and (3) explores communitarian, neo-liberal, and utilitarian philosophies to illuminate ideas regarding widening access.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-155
JournalResearch in Comparative and International Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


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