Photo of colored pencils

Widening access and participation

Currently, certain groups in the community are under-represented within Swedish higher education. So that the mix of students at the University of Gothenburg reflects the wider community, the University is working with widening access and participation, validation and recognition of prior learning in higher education.

Widening access and participation is a task that derives from Sweden’s Higher Education Act. We are to be an inclusive, transparent, and accessible university for all, regardless of background. This goal is especially important because it contributes to access to knowledge and education as a democratic right.

So what are we doing to make our courses and study programmes accessible for all? To fulfil this task, we depend on collaborations both within and outside the University. This means that there are joint initiatives at the University, faculty, and department levels. At the University of Gothenburg, we have chosen to divide this work into three parts: recruitment, access and admissions, and inclusive studies. You can read more about what this means in our policy for widening access and participation (external site).

Contact us for a collaboration!

Currently, we are working long-term on several different projects with a number of external actors, all of which are part of our efforts to broaden the recruitment of students admitted to the University. Please contact Catherine Gillo Nilsson if you would like to initiate a partnership with us. 

Ongoing collaborations

The University of Gothenburg us collaborating with non-profit organisation Nya Kompisbyrån, where activities will be arranged for students in Gothenburg and young people (between ages 18 and 25) within the project NKB Ung. The main purpose of the collaboration is to promote equality and inclusion in society.

The activities are arranged together with museums in Gothenburg and are meant to create meeting places for learning within relevant areas of knowledge, to increase understanding of others' life experiences and to provide the participants with opportunities for cultural exchange.

The University of Gothenburg collaborates with municipal libraries and the City of Gothenburg’s adult learning project Vuxna i lärande to conduct workshops designed to motivate adults to think about continuing their studies. The purpose of these workshops is to inspire the participants and make university studies more approachable and less frightening. The first workshop took place on 26 September 2019 at the Biskopsgården library and was on the theme of the “Principle of public access to official records”. 

We have also toured to Världslitteraturhuset (world literature house) in the Old Town and conducted an interactive workshop that included a guided reflection focusing on literary composition based on personal experiences. In May 2021 we held a digital workshop together with three public libraries (Backa, Hammarkullen and Biskopsgården). The theme of this interactive workshop was African language and in particular Somali. The workshop was facilitated by university lecturer and researcher Morgan Nilsson, together with university coordinators and a student ambassador.

In November 2021 there was an online workshop (in Swedish) with Karolina Westling, assistant lecturer in film studies, about analysing moving image. A student representative as well as representatives from Educational Affairs and the Communications Unit at the University also participated. The organiser for the workshop was the University of Gothenburg together with the Backa and Hammarkullen libraries and Vuxna i lärande (Adults in learning) – support for adult learners at the Gothenburg public libraries.

The project ‘Street Games Academy’ is a collaboration between the Västra Götaland sports association and a number of sports clubs, the University of Gothenburg, and university colleges in Västra Götaland. The aim of the project is to use young people’s interest in sport as a way to encourage them to study more, improve their study results, and teach them more about good diet. The idea is to establish contacts between young people from disadvantaged areas and higher education students so that it will feel more natural for these young people to embark on further studies after secondary school. Within the project, young people get help with their school assignments at least two hours each week (before training in their sports club) from students at the University of Gothenburg who have received specific training in supplemental instruction. In connection with this homework help, the young people also get a healthy snack and information about the importance of a good diet.

The University of Gothenburg is looking for students to write degree projects connected to Street Games Academy. The degree projects are open to students from different subject areas and should focus on a specific aspect in relation to Street Games Academy, for example cooperation, leadership or learning. We welcome students to apply! The last date of application is 30 December 2023. More information in Swedish is available at the link below. You are also welcome to contact Catherine Gillo Nilsson.

Ad portal: Examensarbete inom bland annat samverkan, idrott, ledarskap, lärande och breddad rekrytering

At the link below you can read a Master's thesis written by Megdelawit Ayele Shomoroo about Street Games Academy.

A Qualitative Study of Young People's Experiences with the Street Games Academy Program (GUPEA)

In the workshop ‘Make Your Own Passport’ (MYOP) the general public and secondary school students make their own ‘passports’ and in doing so talk about concepts such as citizenship, statelessness, borders, and globalisation together with University of Gothenburg students and staff. The workshop is based on post-doc Tintin Wulia’s work and is integrated in school teaching and inter-cultural initiatives in the community. In the spring of 2019, the workshop sparked the development of an educational cooperation model between the University and schools. As an arena for inter-cultural encounters, this workshop will also be hosted by the University of Gothenburg’s Centre for Global Migration, Educational Affairs unit, and Communications unit, in cooperation with Vänersborg Art Gallery and the Support Group Network in Vänersborg.

"Make Your Own Passport" Network

The University of Gothenburg and Kultur i Väst (one of the cultural administrations of Region Västra Götaland) are collaborating in the project Konsten att delta Väst (the art of participation) being run by the Swedish Artists’ Association. The overall goal of the project is to provide support for newly arrived and/or foreign visual artists, craftspeople, and designers to integrate into the structure of Swedish society through mentoring and mutual sharing of knowledge and experiences with a focus on culture and art. A group of professional visual artists, craftspeople and designers already established in Sweden make contact with newly arrived foreign colleagues and start a six-month mutual learning process. The University of Gothenburg’s responsibilities and role in this cooperation are based on the University’s mentoring programme ‘University Friend’.

Since spring 2019, the University of Gothenburg has been collaborating with Cuben Utbildning to make it easier for recently arrived university graduates to achieve their educational and career aspirations in Sweden. The aim is to establish a network involving the new arrivals and the University’s students and staff. Cuben students are given the opportunity to integrate many of the University’s specific initiatives for newly arrived migrants into their studies. One example of such an initiative is the mentoring programme ‘University Friend’. The goal of the initiatives is to develop the participants’ Swedish language skills and to increase their knowledge of the Swedish education system and the paths open to them to continue their studies or enter the labour market in Sweden.

Parts of the University of Gothenburg have since 2016 had collaborations in various configurations with the foundation Mitt Livs Val (My life choices), which operates a programme to motivate recently arrived migrants and unaccompanied minors in Gothenburg to start studying. Within these collaborations, students from various parts of the University participate as mentors at group gatherings with special support from both the School of Business, Economics and Law and the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg. The programme aims to strengthen the motivation of recently arrived migrants and unaccompanied minors to study and provide information about education in Sweden. 

Below you will find a link to the website for Mitt Livs Val.

Mitt Livs Val (external page)

Since June 2018, the University of Gothenburg has had a tutor group for supplemental instruction which includes teachers, coordinators, and study counsellors from different parts of the University. Supplemental instruction (SI), or peer-assisted learning (PAL), is a method that is designed to help students to succeed in selected courses, often introductory courses that are particularly challenging. After these courses have been identified, all students in the course are offered an SI session at least once per week led by a specially trained student with experience of the course content. Since autumn 2019, there have been SI supervisors at five faculties, at Educational Affairs and at the University Library.

The year 2017 saw the start of a series of seminars at the University of Gothenburg with the aim of creating a forum for continuous dialogue, and opportunities for sharing, synergies and collaboration concerning various aspects of the University’s work with widening access and participation. The seminar series focuses on three aspects: access, selection and inclusive studies. 

Completed projects

In 2018, a project group consisting of representatives from the faculties and from the Educational Affairs unit at the University of Gothenburg worked on developing a collection of instructive examples of alternative selection models by gathering experience from other higher education institutions among other things. The basic aim of the project was to provide more knowledge, inspiration, and support to the work of the faculties and departments concerning alternative selection models. This particular project has now been concluded but work on alternative selection models continues at the University. If you have introduced or plan to introduce an alternative selection model for your study programmes, we would therefore love to hear from you!

2017 marked the beginning of a pilot project in which the University of Gothenburg collaborated with Norra Fritid in Angered, which consists of the youth recreation centres Gårdstens fritidsgård, Lövgärdets fritidsgård, and KulturATOM. The goal was to reach out to young people aged 13 to 20 to raise their aspirations and inspire them to study by giving them the opportunity to get more information and guidance about higher education, and also to show them positive role models. The University’s engagement in this specific local community in Gothenburg opened up new opportunities for dialogue with young people on their unique educational needs and gave input in developing new formats and strategies for inclusion.

Validation and recognition of prior learning

Another way of widening access and participation among students is our work with validation and recognition of prior learning.

What does the recognition of prior learning involve?

If a person lacks some or all of the formal entry requirements for a course or study programme, but has equivalent knowledge from for example work experience, that person can apply to have their prior learning assessed. Prior learning can give a person entry to a course or study programme. It is also possible to apply for recognition of prior learning to get advanced standing in parts of a study programme.

What is validation?

Validation is the method or process used to assess and recognise a person’s prior learning, regardless of how that person has acquired it. A quality-assured and structured validation process at the University of Gothenburg consists of the following components: identification, documentation, assessment and certification.

How validation is done can differ from case to case because it is based on the individual. For example, validation might include interviews, tests, or written assignments.

RPL in practice

The University of Gothenburg is part of a EU project called RPL in practice. This project aims to narrow the gap between policy and practice by establishing a peer group concentrating on recognition of prior learning, which will support the implementation of recognition and validation procedures.

More information

Include Network

The University of Gothenburg is an active participant in the national Include network. The network is working to widen access and participation and to promote equal treatment in higher education in Sweden.

Valideringsnätverk Väst

The University of Gothenburg is part of a validation network for Western Sweden (Valideringsnätverk Väst), which is working to harmonise the methods used for validation and assessment of prior learning so that they will be more similar at the participating universities and university colleges.