Seminar 2

Widening participation and bi/multilingualism: the cultural and language resources of linguistic minority university students

UCL Institute of Education

Friday March 6th 2015

During recent decades, there has been a mass expansion of tertiary education. Many countries have attempted to increase the number of students from groups that have historically been under-represented in the sector. In the English-dominant world, efforts to widen participation have contributed to an increase in the number of bi/multilingual university students, particularly those from linguistic minority working class backgrounds. However, the sector has generally viewed the linguistic diversity accompanying these students as a problem to be solved rather than an asset to be welcomed. This seminar aims to problematize this view by examining ways in which the multilingual capital that linguistic minority students from WP backgrounds bring into the sector can be used as a resource for social relations and academic work. What is the role of social class? How do social class and language intersect in the identities that linguistic minority university students inhabit and are ascribed? What are the challenges for teaching academic language in contexts of widening participation? What are the possibilities for using linguistic diversity as a resource for building bridges between the everyday and academic worlds of linguistic minority students? The seminar explores questions such as these, with interactive discussions with scholars with an interest in bi/ multilingualism and staff who are responsible for and experienced with the learning and welfare of widening participation students.


Seminar Report

The second seminar in The Multilingual University series took place on 6th March 2015 at the UCL, Institute of Education, London. A summary of the main themes which emerged from this seminar is presented in this report.  The aim of this seminar series is “to empower academic and research staff and user groups … to address the impact of linguistic diversity in HE and inform HE policy so that the bi/multilingual language resources that are embodied in the staff/ student population can be used for the enrichment of all those in the sector.”  With a particular focus on widening participation, the second seminar was introduced by Cathie Wallace, who explained that the day included four presentations (two in the morning and two in the afternoon). Each of the sessions were followed by group discussions and the event was closed by a guest discussant. You can download the full report below:

REPORT_seminar 2