2020 GEM Report on inclusion in education warns that education opportunities continue to be unequally distributed. Barriers to quality education are still too high for too many learners. This Report identifies different forms of exclusion, how they are caused and what we can do about them. As such, it is a call to action we should heed as we seek to pave the way for more resilient and equal societies in the future.A call to collect better data, without which we cannot understand or measure the true scope of the problem. A call to make public policies far more inclusive, based on examples of effective policies currently in force, and by working together to address intersecting disadvantages, just as we saw Ministries and government departments are capable of when addressing Covid-19.

This policy paper synthesizes the findings and analysis of the IDEAS consortium (Identifying Effective Approaches to Enhancing the Social Dimension of Higher Education) into policy recommendations. It is based on the analysis of 57 cases in the IDEAS database.

The present edited volume is a contribution to a European exchange on the role of higher education in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion and the responses of universities to related issues and challenges. Most of the seven case studies come from EUA member universities that  articipated in a focus group on the topic hosted by the University of Lille 3 – Human and Social Sciences in France in November 2017 and are particularly engaged in this area. The aim is to show how universities approach the topic from a strategic point of view, bringing together various smaller scale projects focused on different aspects and dimensions into a comprehensive strategy that becomes an integral part of the institution’s mission.

The report presents a broad picture with data from 159 higher education institutions in 36 European systems. It shows different institutional strategies and measures and analyses success factors, challenges and needs for support to build institutional capacity. It is of interest to university leaders and managers developing their institutional strategy, staff charged with implementation, researchers and students interested in the topic, as well as policy makers and administrators at European and national levels as they develop new policies for higher education and research.

The report gives a general overview of the access to Higher Education in Europe, with comparisons amongst the EU 27 + EEA countries for a number of indicators, including: – entry into Higher Education – equity as defined by socio-economic background – income and expenditure of students in Higher Education – the effect of work on studies. The report also uses this data to make insights on perceptions of equity from European policymakers, consider the validity of different ways of measuring equity and the validity of current policy-initiatives.