One  way of making progress faster is through replicating  measures  that  have  been  shown  to  work,  that  is, adopting or implementing at a larger scale inclusion initiatives that have been developed in a particular higher education  institutions  or  country  and  shown  to  work  through  evaluative  activities. This means time and resources do not need to be used to invent and experiment with new ways of improving access but can be used to implement measures that can be assumed to make a difference fast.
However,  successfully  adopting  someone  else’s  innovation  is  not  necessarily  straightforward.  Indeed, the literature on innovation spread12 shows that this depends on a range of interlocking factors / variables, most notably:

  • An  intervention  that  is:  easy  to  understand;  has  shown  to  work;  is based  on  a  clear  model  and  is nevertheless adaptable to local circumstances and is compatible with existing practices and values in the higher education institute, its past experiences and the needs of potential beneficiaries. This is important and helpful to foster the process of translating and implementing proven practices to a new context.
  • An organization that: is supportive of the innovation, engages staff early and has a culture that values (or at  least  not  punishes)  risk taking,  uses  staff  with  the  right  skills  to  implement the  innovation.  This  is important because innovation is a process of intentional action and investigation with the aim to improve and transform. Having a focus on change is important.
  • A local context that: is compatible with the innovative idea and where relationships with key stakeholders (gatekeepers,  deliverers, stakeholders,  potential  partners)  already  exist  or  are created  in  the  process  of intervention  design  /  adoption.  This  is  important  because  higher  education  institutions  are  part  of  a broader  local  infrastructure  with  more  stakeholders to  take  into  account.  Also  knowing  the  context  of locally defined minorities is important to prioritize.
  • A supportive national and European policy context, evidenced by policies and strategies that tie in with the widening participation intervention. This is important because improving structural and sustainable change and success is only possible with sufficient resources, infrastructure and collaboration on different levels within institutions and with different stakeholders outside the institution. Having national and European policy support the targeted change and hold countries accountable are equally important.

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