Session Title
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Mary Curnock Cook OBE, Advisory Board Member, HEPI and Chair of Trustees, The Access Project (CONFIRMED)

  • Assessing how the Office for Students measures the success of access and participation programmes in higher education
  • Exploring the Office for Students’ ambitious targets to eliminate equality gaps in entry within the next 20 years
  • Analysing what constitutes an effective access and participation plan in line with OfS guidance
  • Sharing the outcomes from the evaluation report of the first two years of the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP)
  • Evaluating the expansion of NCOP in 2020 to tackling the gaps in access for underrepresented groups and low participation areas

Elizabeth Garnham, Access and Participation Plan Manager, Directorate for Fair Access and Participation, Office for Students (OfS) (CONFIRMED)

  • Outlining the key outcomes from State of the Nation 2018 -2019 and mapping out the core challenges for advancing social mobility within higher education
  • Highlighting ongoing obstacles of regional disparities, barriers to elite institutions and retention challenges for underrepresented students
  • Exploring the impact of over £1.38 billion in outreach and support funding across the sector and how the new OfS access gap targets will impact social mobility planning
  • Evaluating how the admissions systems and access to financial support can be further enhanced to reduce barriers to entry and improve inclusivity

Sasha Morgan, Youth and Higher Education Lead, Social Mobility Commission (CONFIRMED)

  • Assessing the progress of the new Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education (TASO) and its approach to eliminating equality gaps in the next 20 years
  • Analysing the key outcomes from the new 2020 report The Impact of Interventions for Widening Access to Higher Education and the core challenges in developing evidence on access for disadvantaged students
  • Identifying and tackling evidence gaps on the future of effective outreach and interventions in widening participation
  • Embedding effective monitoring and evaluation processes into intervention programmes to determine impact and what works

Susannah Hume, Establishing Director, The Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes (TASO) (CONFIRMED)

  • Assessing the proposals emerging from the new HEPI Report Social Mobility and Elite Universities (December 2019)
  • Evaluating the key barriers leading to reduced uptake for underrepresented groups within elite universities
  • Sharing proposed solutions including expanding student numbers, introducing contextual offers and using random allocation for places above a certain grade threshold
  • Analysing the prospect of a social mobility audit in universities to act alongside the delivery of Access and Participation Plans within institutions

Professor Lee Elliot Major, Professor of Social Mobility, University of Exeter and Author of HEPI Report, Social mobility and Elite Universities (CONFIRMED)

  • Developing robust monitoring and evaluation processes to identify and target groups with low participation in the admissions process
  • Designing an intensive multi-intervention strategy for pupils from Year 8 onwards and harnessing insights from the projects to inform outreach activities
  • Forming bespoke school partnerships aimed at raising attainment in the classroom for disadvantaged pupils
  • Reviewing the offers process for underrepresented groups and conducting research into contextual offer making
  • Exploring the journey of disadvantage students towards entry and assessing how barrier to admission can be removed

Dimple Wedgewood, Deputy Head of Widening Participation, London School of Economics and Political Science (invited)

  • Assessing what constitutes effective access and participation planning and how the sector can work to improve outcomes from their programmes
  • Designing and implementing evidence-based and high impact outreach and engagement projects
  • Exploring the next steps in supporting all students to overcome the financial, academic and cultural barriers to entering higher education

Paul Blagburn, Head of Widening Participation, University of Warwick (CONFIRMED)
Krisha Bainham, Head of Widening Access, University of Derby (CONFIRMED)
Dr Andrew Ross, Head of Widening Access and Participation, University of Bath (CONFIRMED)
Nathan Sansom, CEO, The Access Project (CONFIRMED)

  • Developing a sustained outreach programme to widen participation through student mentoring services, application support programmes, guidance services and targeted transition activities for new students
  • Broadening access through a progression scheme for disadvantaged students supporting entry for those with lower grades
  • Forming a multi-agency partnership with local authorities, schools and key stakeholders to train frontline professionals supporting disadvantaged young people
  • Building outreach into the new Access and Participation Plan to expand on existing success with 50% of students from deprived areas and 70% of students from BAME backgrounds

University of the Year for Social Inclusion 2020, Times Higher Education

Professor Shirley Congdon, Vice-Chancellor, University of Bradford (CONFIRMED)

  • Developing an evidence base through an intensive research programme with the Behavioural Insights Team in partnership with King’s College London to support best practice in driving social mobility on higher education courses
  • Designing a sector-leading student learning analytics dashboard allowing the monitoring of student engagement to support interventions for students with low attendance and low usage of core facilities
  • Transforming the learning environment with the SCALE-UP programme designed to move from traditional teaching models to collaborative learning pedagogies aimed at enhancing engagement and reducing progression gaps
  • Developing the Centre for Student and Community Engagement which supports evidence-based programmes to improve attainment and help students develop social and cultural capital succeed at university

University of the Year – UK Social Mobility Awards 2019
University of the Year – The Guardian University Awards 2019

David Woolley, Director of Student and Community Engagement, Nottingham Trent University (CONFIRMED)

  • Sharing research findings on experiences of access and participation in higher education from the Transforming Transitions Project
  • Exploring the paths to higher education for BTEC students who have traditionally had less success in progression to university
  • Assessing the key outcomes from student interviews with social experiences, assessment practices and ways of learning identified as the key challenges in transition
  • Harnessing this research to improve the experience of BTEC students on entry with more inclusive approaches to teaching, new academic mentoring systems and improved induction processes

Professor Debra Myhill, Professor of Education, University of Exeter (CONFIRMED)

*Programme subject to change

Contact Us

Widening Participation Conference 2020

Tel: 0203 770 6580


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