Westminster Higher Education Forum

Next steps for widening participation in higher education - developing collaboration between schools and universities, supporting disadvantaged groups and key priorities following the OfS review

Morning, Tuesday, 12th March 2019

Central London


This timely seminar will examine the next steps for widening participation (WP) in higher education.

It will be an opportunity to assess the new approach to access and participation recently published by the Office for Students (OfS), which set long-term sector-wide targets aimed at eliminating the gap in entry rates at leading universities between the most and least represented groups, and tackling high non-continuation rates and gaps in degree outcomes.

We expect discussion on the implementation and impact the OfS’s proposed risk-based approach for access and participation plans (APPs), including the flexibility it offers universities in setting timescales for widening participation, as well as when the OfS might intervene, and requirements on target-setting and reporting.

The seminar will also follow the expected publication of the Government’s interim report on post-18 education and funding, which will have key implications for strategies aimed at widening participation.

Planned sessions focus on key barriers to higher education for different disadvantaged groups, and latest thinking on how outreach strategies can be tailored to target support.

Delegates will assess the impact of the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP) so far, which the OfS has agreed in principle to continue funding until 2021, and consider how partnerships between schools, colleges and universities can increase participation among disadvantaged groups through raising aspiration and improving pupil attainment. They will also consider how universities can play a more active role in helping pupils meet university entry requirements.

Further planned sessions discuss other strategies for widening participation which go beyond the NCOP. We expect discussion to draw on the experience of alternative HE providers, universities overseas and foundation course providers to consider fresh approaches that could be adopted by universities to diversify their student intake.

Keynote Speakers

Jessica Woodsford

Head of Programmes, Fair Access and Participation, Office for Students

Ben Jordan

Senior Policy and Qualifications Manager, UCAS


Alastair McKenzie

Principal, Kings College, Guildford

Professor Tom Sperlinger,

Professor of Literature and Engaged Pedagogy, University of Bristol

Rabia Lemahieu

Disability and Skills Manager, Disability Rights UK

Professor Tim Blackman

Vice-Chancellor, Middlesex University

Ilyas Nagdee

Black Students Officer, NUS

Emily Hughes

Access and Inclusion Manager, Directorate of Student Achievement, Kingston University

Alan Rusbridger

Principal, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford

Lindsey Bowes

Research Director, CFE Research

Hugo Dale-Harris

Policy Officer, HEPI

Cathy Sinclair

Joint Head, UK Student Recruitment, Sheffield Hallam University

Dr Sonia Ilie

Director of Studies in Education, Fitzwilliam College and Senior Research Fellow, Faculty of Education & Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge

Laura Bruce

Acting Head of Programmes and Partnerships, The Sutton Trust

Alexander Proudfoot

Chief Executive, Independent HE