Promoting diversity in creative art education: the case of Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London

Hayton, Annette; Haste, Polly and Jones, Alison. 2014. Promoting diversity in creative art education: the case of Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 36(8), pp. 1258-1276. ISSN 0142-5692 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Students studying art at university in the United Kingdom tend to be female, from higher social classes and from majority ethnic groups. This paper considers some of the complex and deeply-rooted social and economic factors that militate against wider participation in the arts and describes how we started to tackle under-representation at Goldsmiths using a participatory action research approach. Working in partnership with local colleges, the project aimed to increase student diversity and widen participation in the Goldsmiths BA Fine Art Degree. The need for university applicants to have the ‘right sort’ of cultural capital is particularly marked in Fine Art, indicating that standard widening participation aspiration-raising activities would not solve the problem. A range of interventions were developed to support potential applicants, underpinned by participatory action research. The flexibility and responsiveness of the research model allowed us to reflect on and respond to issues as they arose and to achieve immediate positive impact.

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The authors would like to formally acknowledge and thank Dr Anna Carlile, Goldsmiths, University of London, for the development and delivery of the “Illuminate” participants-as-researchers methodology used at the beginning of the project, as referenced in the paper and as published in Carlile, A. (2012) ‘Critical bureaucracy’ in action: embedding student voice into school governance, Pedagogy, Culture and Society 20:3, 393–412.
The authors would like to apologise for the unintended oversight in not acknowledging Dr Carlile’s 2012 article in the original paper.


higher education, art education, widening participation, cultural capital, diversity, participatory action research

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9 April 2014Published
19 February 2014Accepted

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Date Deposited:

04 Feb 2015 11:38

Last Modified:

19 Mar 2021 15:31

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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