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Enhancing access and uptake of education to reverse inequalities

TRANSFORMATIONS-22-2020 (RIA Research and Innovation action, CSA Coordination and support action)

Inequalities have been rising over several decades in s Europe in spite of increased levels of welfare and public spending as a proportion of GDP. Growing inequality is a threat to economic growth, democracy and equal opportunities for future generations. Social disadvantages and precariousness are to a large extent inherited whereby low educational attainment of both parents and children play a key role. There is ample evidence that children from less privileged social backgrounds trail behind in access and uptake of education. Often disadvantages such as low-skilled parents, mono-parental families, limited access to social services (e.g. health and housing), and cultural resources, and being from a migration background, cumulate. The challenge is to reverse this trend and to enhance upward social mobility by significantly improving access and uptake of education in Europe, in line with the European Pillar of Social Rights.


Research and Innovation Action:

The research will focus on access and uptake of education from early childhood to adult education using the most appropriate methods and approaches. Education should be understood comprehensively, including formal and informal education publicly or privately provided. Any means of knowledge, skills and competences acquisition should be considered. The research should take into account the increasing diversity in Europe and complex interplay of the socio-economic status of parents, family configuration, geographical location, ethnicity, religion, language, traditions, cultural values, gender, disabilities, special educational needs, as well as differences between urban and rural environments. The diversity requires moving from standardisation to customisation and cross-sectoral policies as well as the involvement of multiple stakeholders. Research will refine and develop necessary quantitative and qualitative data, learn lessons from existing policies to combat inequalities across a number of policy fields, and propose new or differentiated policies where needed. Proposals should build on the evidence of the successful contexts in which practices are demonstrating to be effective, considering the diversity of structures and agents influencing the access and uptake of education.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the order of EUR 3.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Coordination and Support Action

The Coordination and Support Action will run in parallel to the research and innovation actions and interact with them to enhance synergies and cooperation between them and amongst the relevant stakeholders (including policy makers at all levels in the relevant policy fields,) and decisively promote the policy uptake of the research to overcome inequalities. It will generate networks for research and policy development and promote and monitor concrete policy guidance for system-wide, integrated and - where necessary – cross-policy strategies for effective intervention.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the order of EUR 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

The RIA action will support the advancement and uptake of effective and efficient practices in order to reverse inequalities, increase access to quality education for disadvantaged groups, improve uptake of education in key competences (reading, maths, sciences, digital skills), reduce the impact of social disadvantage and thereby increase social upward mobility in Europe. It will produce research results on access and uptake of education and formulate policy recommendations in a cross-sectoral approach and by involving multiple stakeholders. It will deliver best practices and new methodologies (where appropriate), which can be scalable and replicable by other projects and stakeholders. The action will support the breaking of policies and intervention silos toward more cooperation amongst stakeholders.

The Coordination and Support Action will draw policy lessons from previous topics in this field, bring together through networks and conferences different stakeholders and coordinate their efforts to draw policy recommendations and impact lessons that can be implemented. The network structure should enable the sustainability over time of the policy process.

Cross-cutting Priorities

Socio-economic science and humanities

Application date
European Union
Humanities : Anthropology & Ethnology, History, Linguistics, Philosophy
Social sciences : Business and Administrative Sciences, Demography, Economics, Gender Studies, Geography, Law, Pedagogic & Education Research, Political science, Psychology & Cognitive Sciences, Social Anthropology, Sociology
Required post-doc experience
Between 0 and 99 years
Grants available
Award granted
€ 10.000.000