Despite all intentions in the course of the Bologna Process and decades of investment into improving the social dimension, results in many national and international studies show that inequity remains stubbornly persistent, and that inequity based on socio-economic status, parental education, gender, country-of-origin, rural background and more continues to prevail in our Higher Education systems and at the labour market. While improvement has been shown, extrapolation of the gains of the last 40 years in the field show that it could take over 100 years for disadvantaged groups to catch up with their more advantaged peers, should the current rate of improvement be maintained.
Many of the traditional approaches to improving equity have also necessitated large-scale public investments, in the form of direct support to underrepresented groups. In an age of austerity, many countries in Europe are finding it necessary to revisit and scale down these policies, so as to accommodate other priorities, such as balanced budgets or dealing with an aging population. An analysis of the current situation indicates that the time is ripe for disruptive innovations to mobilise the cause forward by leaps and bounds, instead of through incrementalist approaches. Despite the list of programmes in this analysis there is very little evidence as to the causal link between programmes, methodologies for their use and increases/improvements in equity in institutions. This creates a significant information gap for institutions and public authorities seeking for indicators to allocate limited resources to equity improving initiatives, without adequate evidence of effectiveness. The IDEAS project and this publication aims at addressing and improving this information gap.