How do we understand and explain who has access to higher education? How do we make sense of persisting and new forms of inequality? How can global, national and institutional policymakers and practitioners make higher education more inclusive? Access to Higher Education: Theoretical perspectives and contemporary challenges seeks to update thinking on these questions, combining new voices and emerging perspectives with established writers in the field. This pioneering text highlights the contribution of social theory to issues of access to education, with chapters introducing and drawing on the works of key interdisciplinary thinkers including Pierre Bourdieu, Margaret Archer, Amartya Sen and Herbert Simon. It then moves to examines how theoretical perspectives can be applied to the contemporary challenges of forging more equal access, with examples drawn from a wide range of contexts, including the UK, the US, Australia, South Africa and Japan. Global in scope, this book documents the shared nature of the access challenge in a period when higher education is growing rapidly, but inequalities continue to be stark. It concludes by proposing a new direction for research and a reassertion of the role of the researcher as a social activist for disconnected and disadvantaged groups, equipped with the thinking tools needed to move the agenda forward. Access to Higher Education is a rigorous text for the global research community, with relevance to policymakers, practitioners and postgraduate students interested in social justice and social policy. It provides those with an academic interest in access and a commitment to enhancing policy with theoretical and practical ideas for moving the access agenda forward in their institutional, regional or national contexts.