Reconsidering Access: Using Specific Impact Ranking Metrics to Manage Access in Conventional and Open Higher Education
This paper considers the widening access and participation agenda, its implications for higher education institutions (HEIs) and contends that it must be underpinned by strategic measurement and monitoring. Access is viewed through of the following lenses: (i) supporting participation, and (ii) facilitating equity. Using mixed methods, the paper draws on data from The University of the West Indies (UWI) and provides examples from key plans and initiatives over 20 years to showcase how the UWI has increased access. Concurrently, the need for more nuanced and complex datasets to assess the extent of equity is highlighted with metrics drawn from the Times Higher Education University Impact Ranking. The authors argue that the strategic use and management of data can promote public accountability associated with access and boost institutional reputation. However, universities will have to be innovative and accelerate measures to survive/thrive in the post-pandemic environment by identifying their institutional scope and “system of interest” in widening access.