PL4SD was based on three pillars: (1) database of measures, (2) country reviews and (3) dialogue through conferences. These three elements focused on enabling peer learning in order to improve the social dimension, namely participation, access and equity of underrepresented groups in higher education.

      • online database
        The first project phase aimed at building up a database containing information on measures that foster participation, access and equity in higher education. The database contains a diverse collection of policy measures as well as a broad selection of research related to the social dimension. Linking theory and practice, it serves as a resource for policy-makers, practitioners, researchers and students who are committed to the improvement of the social dimension of higher education. The database was built to enable peer learning among stakeholders and countries in order to improve the social dimension. Decision- makers throughout Europe are thus encouraged to start initiatives, measures, and strategies that foster participation, access and equity in higher education.

      • country reviews
        The second major project element were pilot studies conducted in three countries on demand. Various demarcations of administrative and operational responsibilities in an education system (national, regional and institutional, but also sectorial) often result in an incoherence of actions. Therefore these country reviews aimed at providing an external and comprehensive reflection and review of measures undertaken by a country to support the social dimension of higher education. The objective of the reviews was to assist countries in the development of a coherent, comprehensive and effective national strategy for improving the social dimension of higher education. In order to meet this objective the reviews were conducted in close cooperation between the external reviewers who were recruited specifically for the country to be reviewed, the project team, and the national policy-makers and stakeholders involved in the country review.

      • dialogue through conferences
        The objective of the two conferences held during the project was to enable face-to-face peer learning among various stakeholders. Researchers, practitioners and representatives of students, ministries and higher education institutions were invited to shard their views on various aspects of the social dimension in higher education at these conferences.

On the basis of these three approaches PL4SD stimulated peer learning among policy-makers, practitioners, researchers, and students who are committed to the improvement of the social dimension of higher education. This objective inter alia was achieved through providing public access to the database and the final reports of the country reviews, as well as through organising two peer learning conferences.