Westminster Higher Education Forum

Next steps for widening participation policy and practice: key target groups, reforming admissions processes and best practice in outreach

Tuesday, 21st March 2017

Central London


With the Government having set two widening participation targets - doubling the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds from 14% to 28%, and to increase by 20% the numbers of students from BME backgrounds, both by 2020 - this seminar will be a timely opportunity to assess existing best practice, remaining practical challenges and next steps for policy in order achieve these goals.

The seminar also comes as HEFCE prepares to oversee the launch of a new Collaborative Outreach Program which will see consortia of universities and other groups leading efforts to realise the Government's targets and with considerable change planned to post-16 vocational qualifications.

Delegates will discuss the impact of the reform of post-16 technical education and the opportunities presented by Degree Apprenticeships for widening participation, the distinct challenges for improving participation among students who are mature, BAME, disabled or from disadvantaged communities, and evidence of what works in outreach and how lessons might be drawn from this to inform policy and practice more widely.

The role of the admissions system in widening participation will also be discussed, including the proposal for UCAS applications to be ‘name-blind’ which is currently being trialled and consulted upon, as well the likely impact of new requirements for universities to report admissions data, the growing use of contextual data to inform offers and the merits of wider reform of the system such as moving to a Post-Qualification Application model.

Guests of Honour

Sarah Howls

Head of Student Opportunity, HEFCE

Margaret Farragher

Head of Policy and Qualifications, UCAS

Guests of Honour

Margaret Farragher

Head of Policy and Qualifications, UCAS

Sarah Howls

Head of Student Opportunity, HEFCE

Keynote Speakers

Dr Graeme Atherton

Director, National Educational Opportunities Network

Adrian Anderson

Chief Executive, University Vocational Awards Council


Flick Drummond MP

Member, Women and Equalities Committee

Rt Hon David Lammy MP

former Minister of State for Higher Education and Intellectual Property


Joe Baden

Director, Open Book, Goldsmiths, University of London

Eliza Selley

Associate Adviser and PhD Fellow, Behavioural Insights Team

Angela Nartey

Policy Officer, UCU

Geoff Hurst

Managing Director, Altain Education

Sam Baars

Director of Research, LKMco

Gaynor Glover

Associate Director, Admissions, University of Liverpool

Dan Shaffer

Head of Professionalism in Admissions, SPA (Supporting Professionalism in Admissions)

Annette Hayton

Head of Widening Participation, University of Bath

Omar Khan

Director, Runnymede Trust and Member, Social Mobility Advisory Group

Dr Tony Ellis

Director, Lifelong Learning Centre, University of Leeds and Secretary, Universities Association for Lifelong Learning