Westminster Higher Education Forum

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Widening participation and access to higher education - improving outcomes, HEI and school collaboration, and the future role of universities in skills development

Morning, Thursday, 26th May 2022


This conference focuses on next steps in widening access to higher education and improving outcomes for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.


It comes with the Government’s revised approach to the role of universities in supporting students, with expectations that HEIs should play a more active role in:

  • reducing drop-out rates and improving student outcomes
  • supporting local schools through initiatives such as tutoring, helping with curriculum development, and providing summer schools

The conference also follows the publication of the Government’s response to the Augar Review, which included:

  • the proposed introduction of national state scholarships for disadvantaged students
  • a reduction in the fee limit for foundation year courses
  • a government consultation on the potential introduction of student number controls

Delegates will look at the likely impact that these measures would have on widening access and social mobility, alongside new requirements from the OfS for all universities to develop new access and participation plans.


In addition, with the new policy approach also emphasising university support for alternative pathways, the conference will be an opportunity to consider:

  • integration into local skills systems - priorities for further integration of universities, and the role of the Lifelong Learning Entitlement in improving the offer for mature learners
  • vocational, technical and part-time courses - next steps for provision
  • the Skills and Post-16 Education Act - what can be learned from its approach to local skills development 
  • red tape - how the higher education sector could simplify its approach to access and participation whilst still being able to accurately monitor progress and set clear targets
  • key student groups - improving outcomes and tackling drop-out rates for students facing additional challenges

We are pleased to be able to include a keynote session with Ben Jordan, Head of Policy, UCAS.


The conference will be an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who are due to attend from the DfE; DAERA, NI; the Department for the Economy, NI; the OLS; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.



Keynote Speaker

Ben Jordan

Head of Policy, UCAS

Keynote Speaker

Ben Jordan

Head of Policy, UCAS

Chair

Baroness Garden

Speakers

Professor Graeme Atherton

Head of the Centre for Levelling Up, University of West London; and Director, Neon

Professor Katy Shaw

Director of Cultural Partnerships, Northumbria University

Caroline Bald

Lecturer, School of Health and Social Care, University of Essex

Zac Aldridge

Director of Qualifications and Assessment, NCFE

Amelia McLoughlan

Network Director, Disabled Students UK

Marie Muir

Head of Student and Community Engagement, Nottingham Trent University

Susie Whigham

Interim Chief Executive Officer, The Brilliant Club

Clare Bracey

Director of Policy, Communications and Campaigns, Become

Lewis Cooper

Director, Commission on the College of the Future

Alex Bishop

Partner and Head of Office, Birmingham, Shoosmiths

Charley Fowler

UK Education Lead and Area Manager, Unifrog

Professor Judith Squires

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, University of Bristol

Sarah Fullwood

Pathways Manager, Student Recruitment and Outreach, Aston University

Ellie Mulcahy

Head of Research, Centre for Education and Youth