• Description

Discussions about achieving access and equity in higher education are often centered on debates about university admissions policies. While this focus is to be expected given the direct bearing that admissions policies have on who gains access, there are initiatives beyond the university sphere that seek to increase equity in higher education. Scholarship and fellowship programs, both public and private, impact the lives of countless individuals pursuing tertiary education, and many of these programs seek not just to provide financial support, but to achieve broader aims for the greater public good.

The Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program (IFP) is one such program that sought to address educational inequality on a large scale by providing over 4,300 graduate fellowships to individuals from some of the most marginalized populations worldwide. The Institute of International Education (IIE) is carrying out a 10-year IFP Alumni Tracking Study that examines the broader impacts of IFP on its fellows and their home communities. This issue brief analyzes the role that such programs can play in promoting equity in higher education.

Researchers and practitioners alike can use this brief to consider different conceptual and programmatic approaches to advancing equity in higher education using IFP as an example. The brief draws upon the work of Michele S. Moses, a philosopher of education who identifies four salient types of justification for affirmative action policies at universities. These rationales provide a conceptual framework for understanding different approaches to achieving educational equity, including those employed by IFP.