The primary national provider since 1999 of information, advice and guidance on access, participation, and student retention and success to leaders and practitioners in providers of higher education, working with a wide range of partners and strategic alliances to both challenge and support the sector to deliver and to embed access, widening participation and student success.
Our primary aim and mission is develop the sector’s capacity to ensure a representative and successful student cohort, and to embed fair access and widening participation within organisational strategies, missions and cultures.
A wider mission is to promote and strengthen inclusivity and diversity and to shape and influence (on behalf of learners and practitioners) both policy and practice through brokering dialogue between policy makers and practitioner managers.
To achieve these aims we have developed an in-house experience and expertise and gained an enviable reputation across the sector for high quality, reliability and flexible responsiveness. Our core group of recognised consultants and Associates, and our wider network of strategic alliances will ensure a coordinated national strategic approach and support to broadening access and widening participation.
Action on Access is hosted by the Learning and Work Institute who have given invaluable on-going practical support, strategic debate, joint delivery, planning and review since 2012. As well as other invaluable partnerships with the organisations who’s logos are below, Action on Access is proud to be a partner member of the Social Partnerships Network (SPN), sharing common values related to lifelong learning and social mobility and a commitment to creating strategies and activities that contribute to a more diverse higher education system. Together, in the Network, we show that collaboration with like-minded organisations is an effective way to reach new learners who might think that university-level study is not for them. See the SPN website: http://www.open.ac.uk/cicp/main/social-partnerships
Action on Access,
c/o Learning and work Institute,
Chetwynd House, 21 De Montfort Street,
Leicester, LE1 7GE
Principal, Professor John Storan
Professor John Storan is a Principal at Action on Access and works closely with the Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland. John is currently the Director of Continuum, the Centre for Widening Participation Policy Studies at the University of East London, and was previously Director of Continuing Education and Development at South Bank University, London and Founding Chair of the Forum for the Advancement of Continuing Education (FACE). In 2001 he was made a Professorial Fellow at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), a Visiting Professor at Malmo University, Sweden, as well as currently being the UK representative on the Bologna working group for the Social Dimension and Lifelong Learning.
He has been a regional, national and international figure on Widening Participation in Higher Education and was a member of the NABCE (Non Award-Bearing Continuing Education National Group), established by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) in 1994, which paved the way for subsequent Widening Participation developments. He has been a member of a number of HEFCE groups and previously served as a member on the National Steering Group for Partnerships for Progression. He was a pioneer of the Assessment of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) in the UK and has chaired the SEEC APEL network since it was established. Internationally John has worked extensively in Sweden, USA and South Africa advising Governments and related agencies as well as Universities on the policy and practice of Widening Participation and HE Participation.
In addition to his UK experience John also has wide international experience as a result of his keynotes, conference inputs and involvement in European research and development projects.
Principal, Andrew Rawson
As Principal Andrew uses his considerable national expertise, organisational experience and networks of contacts to drive Action on Access forward. He has responsibility for all operations, including financial and operational planning and reporting as well as driving strategic direction.
A long commitment and experience in access, widening participation and student success with all age groups; a background in the national careers service, further education leading student services and adult guidance services and networks underpins his commitment to work to widen and deepen access and participation in education and training, particularly higher education in its diverse forms. His goal to contribute to the breaking down of the barriers still faced by many young and adult learners so that they grasp their life chances and fully maximise their potential.
Michael Hill is an Educational Consultant with over 30 years of experience of the adult, further and higher education sectors. His areas of interest include widening access, student retention and success, student engagement and institutional research. He works with a number of bodies including Action on Access, FACE, the HEA, Buttle UK and he sits on the HEFCE WP Reference Group. At present he advises academic and professional staff at a number of universities and colleges on strategies to improve student retention, success and attainment. He is an Associate of Continuum, the centre for widening participation policy studies, University of East London. www.michaelhilleducation.com
Professor Liz Thomas is the Higher Education Institutions adviser for Action on Access. Liz is currently Director and Chair of the Widening Participation Research Centre at Edge Hill University and Senior Adviser for Widening Participation at the Higher Education Academy.
Liz combines undertaking research and writing for publication, with a research-informed approach to supporting the development of inclusive policy and practice, both nationally and within institutions. Since 2007 she has led the design and delivery of a number of programmes aimed at cross-institutional teams to support the development of institutional policy and practice in key areas related to widening participation.
Liz is currently managing a research project to investigate how widening participation can be mainstreamed and embedded into higher education institutions. Previously she has led and contributed to other high-profile and influential research projects in the UK and internationally. These include:
- Embedding up into higher education institutions
- What influences vocational choices? Research for Aimhigher Greater Merseyside exploring young people’s decisions with regard to pursuing vocational higher education.
- Girls into physics. Action research evaluation. Research for the Institute of Physics and Department of Children, Schools and Families to explore how schools and colleges can increase participation by girls in physics education post-16.
- Ten year review of Sutton Trust summer schools: qualitative study exploring the experience of summer school graduates over a ten year period.
- Widening participation in the health and social care sectors: report to the Department of Health Widening Participation in Learning Team, headed by Sir Bob Fryer (2006)
- Review of the Barriers to Participation. Extensive literature review and report for HEFCE. This has influenced widening participation policy and practice nationally and within institutions and partnerships (2005).
- From the margins to the mainstream: embedding widening participation in higher education. Statistical analysis and case study research exploring good practice across the higher education sector. This report raised and explored the issue of embedding WP into the culture and practices of HEIs (2005).
- Working Class Student Drop-Out. National and international research exploring the impact of early withdrawal from higher education for young working class students. This work was consulted as part of the National Audit Office investigation of student retention in 2007.
- International Comparative Research: Under-represented Groups in Tertiary Education. This ambitious project brought together educationalists from ten countries (Australia, Canada, Croatia, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, UK and US) to examine the experience of students from 4 under-represented groups in tertiary education. The project culminated in a research report (2003), an international conference in Amsterdam in 2003, and a book First Generation Entrants in Higher Education: An international analysis, (2006), which was consulted by the National Audit Office review of widening participation in England.
- Student ServicesProject: Effective approaches to retaining students. A study for Universities UK to identify and research good practice and develop guidelines for student services to support students from under-represented groups to succeed in higher education (2002). This study was cited in the 2003 White Paper The Future of Higher Education.
- Supporting Student Success. A series of reports for HEFCE on improving retention in higher education institutions (2001-2002).
- Widening Participation: Evaluation of the collaboration between higher education institutions and further education colleges to increase participation in higher education. National research project for HEFCE to examine the practice and effectiveness of collaboration to widen participation, based on a national survey and qualitatively-orientated case studies (2001)
Liz is author and editor of nine books on widening participation, including First Generation Entrants in higher education: an international analysis (2006, SRHE and Open University Press); Overcoming the barriers to higher education (2007, Trentham Books); Improving retention in higher education (2007, Routledge), Personal Tutoring in Higher Education (2006, Trentham Books) and Widening Participation in post-compulsory education. (2005, Second Edition, Continuum Books Ltd). She is also the founding editor of the international peer-reviewed journal Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning. She is a member of the editorial board of Higher Education Quarterly and the Journal of Access Policy and Practice, she regularly reviews articles related to WP and retention for Studies in Higher Education, and other journals.
Liz is well respected in the UK and internationally. She is frequently asked to give keynote addresses in the UK and abroad about widening participation, teaching and learning and student retention, and she has contributed to a number of HEFCE widening participation policy seminars. She recently advised the Higher Education Authority in the Republic of Ireland about developing access provision and retention initiatives for students from under-represented groups in the Institute of Technology sector. Previously she was the Vice-president of the European Access Network and the international member of the Board for the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, Washington DC, US.
Viv Wylie leads the work of the team with regard to collaborative widening participation. She was Pro-Vice Chancellor at Wolverhampton from 1992 – 2003.
As Pro-Vice Chancellor Viv was responsible for the annual planning cycle, the development of the academic portfolio, learning and teaching, international links, FE links, widening participation, retention, academic structures. As Regional Director Aimhigher she set up the original Partnerships for Progression operation in the West Midlands, including three rounds of planning, the establishing of structures and processes across all six areas, and the development of a set of cross regional projects to improve the learning pathways.
Viv has membership of a number of public committees and bodies and has made a number of conference presentations
Action on Access Associates Network (with hyper link to new website page on Associates)
Action on Access is proud to have strong strategic alliances and associations with