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Widening Access to Higher Education in India

This a 4-year research project (2022-26) that draws on and furthers the reach and impact of the first Fair Chance Foundation (FCF) project ‘A Fair Chance for Education: Gendered Pathways to Educational Success in Haryana’ (2017-21) ( This new project takes a key finding from the first project which has significant potential for impact. This is the vital but currently under-utilised potential of faculty members in rural and semi-urban Higher Education (HE) institutions to have a positive effect on young peoples’ HE participation and their life chances. This project recognises the potential role of rural-serving state universities and government colleges based in rural and semi-urban areas as HE knowledge hubs and strengthening their efforts in delivering on the equity and social justice agenda for HE in India.

The project focuses on six states from the different regions of India, to provide a representative picture and field of influence for the project. The study will be based on case studies of HEIs which will include state universities and affiliated undergraduate colleges across six geographical zones (North, West, Central, East, South and North-East).

This project aims to explore, consolidate and maximise the role of HEIs through state university and college faculty members and college principals in providing guidance on HE access/choice in the communities they serve, to ensure that young people entering HE for the first time in their families and communities are making informed choices about their futures. 


  • To explore the potential for HEIs, their faculty members and leaders in rural and semi-urban India to contribute to enhancing knowledge of HE in local disadvantaged communities 
  • To develop and evaluate a continuing professional learning module for faculty members that have the purpose of developing their capacity and motivation to engage in gender-equitable, socially-just HE outreach activities in their local communities 
  • To develop and evaluate the potential for institutional, state and national policy impact via interactive consultations 
  • To develop the research capacities of faculty members based in state universities and government colleges 
  • To contribute to methodological innovation, especially in relation to diary method 
Widening Access to Higher Education in India: Institutional Approaches

July 2022 - June 2026

Co-Principal Investigators:

Emily Henderson

Dr Emily Henderson (DES)


Dr Nidhi SabharwalLink opens in a new window, NIEPA, India

Ann Stewart