The National Co-ordination Team for Widening Participation and Access to Higher Education



WP Events for your diaries


Advance notice Action on Access events

9 November 2016: Access to HE Summit, Action on Access and Universities UK conference, Woburn Conference Centre, London. The annual Access to HE Summit takes place on 9th November this year. Please put this date in your diary now. The programme will be finalised nearer the time but you can be sure the conference will be ultimately unmissable.

21 February 2016: Developing your OFFA access agreement for 2018/19, with OFFA and UUK at the Woburn conference Centre, London.

Another date for your diaries for this fourth annual conference with its always timely conversation between OFFA and higher education providers about planning and writing access agreements. Information to follow later in the year.



                     Calendar of events

7 September 2016: Discussing the Impact of Brexit: Universities, Higher Education and Research Funding, Central London

As the country confronts uncertain times, universities are expected to face unprecedented challenges, particularly with regard to research funding. Despite the uncertainties, this symposium provides an invaluable opportunity for key stakeholders across the higher education sector, to discuss the most challenging issues, share ideas and develop strategies to ensure that universities remain committed to collaboration and will continue to be global in their impact to safeguard Britain’s status as a world-leading place to study and research at such a critical time. Delegates will:

Discuss the main challenges facing the higher education sector in continuing to provide opportunities for word-leading research and teaching and maintaining a global impact

Debate the consequences of Brexit on higher education research funding, both in the short and long term

Gain insights into approaches to secure access to future Horizon 2020 funding

Examine different ways to continue to effectively recruit and collaborate with high-quality researchers from across and outside the EU

Explore ways in which the government and the higher education sector can work together to ensure continued access to funding opportunities and research networks

Hear from colleagues within the sector on shaping future UK research policy and the role of UK funding and research councils

Develop strategies to respond to the uncertainty caused by Brexit in the context of continuing to make research applications and collaborate with research across the EU

Communicate and share ideas on how to mitigate the impact of Brexit on higher education funding over the longer term

Key speakers include: Andrew Jones, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research and Enterprise),
City University; Richard Black Pro Director (Research and Enterprise), SOAS

Further information:


8-9 September 2016: Festival of Higher Education: University of Buckingham
The festival is modelled on The Sunday Times Festival of Education and the focus will be on “Universities of the future: how to prepare now” and there will be over 30 of Higher Education’s most influential speakers across the two days, including Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science and Mary Curnock-Cook, Chief Executive of UCAS. Sessions will also focus on Prevent, freedom of speech, technology, teaching excellence, student mental health and school/university links. This a great opportunity to learn more, share your thoughts and meet leading practitioners in higher education. The festival will be of interest to staff, students, supporters and anyone involved in the transition from school/college to university. Further information:


16 September 2016: Regional devolution and the Midlands Engine – investment, skills and infrastructure, Westminster Social Policy Forum Keynote Seminar, Birmingham

This seminar will assess policy priorities and key implementation issues for regional devolution in England, focusing on: Developing the necessary infrastructure, including issues around connectivity, collaboration and finance; Attracting businesses and investment, and meeting skills needs; and the impact of devolution on economic growth in the Midlands.

Delegates will discuss how businesses and local councils can work together to help boost economic growth, and the confirmed devolution deals for the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Greater Lincolnshire Combined Authority which seek to address skills shortages, transport connectivity and the availability of housing.

Further information:


17 September 2016: #REACHOUT Shining a Light on Adolescent Mental Health Community event, Herne Hill, South West London

#REACHOUT is organising a community event about adolescent mental health on Saturday 17th September between 12-3pm at 198 Gallery in Herne Hill. The REACH Study is a team of researchers from King’s College London that are investigating what factors promote good mental health among adolescents, and in particular, what it is that makes adolescents thrive despite the challenges they may face. See their broader research study here:

The event will: further your understanding about adolescent mental health and how to increase resilience; explore current challenges surrounding adolescent mental health and demonstrate how research studies, including The REACH Study, are exploring mental health and contributes to the local community. A combination of exciting talks from leading scientists in the field of mental health, and senior teachers and young people with experience of the challenges of mental health, together with a series of interactive activities with hands-on learning on the project itself and local projects and initiatives that are encouraging good mental health.

Further information on the event:


11 October 2016: QAA fourth annual Access to HE higher education admissions fair, Central Hall, Westminster.

The event provides an opportunity for current Access to HE students to speak to staff in HE to help inform their UCAS applications and subsequent HE careers.

While it is still the case that many Access to HE students need to study close to home (last year 75 per cent of applicants with an Access to HE Diploma were accepted for higher education study by a provider close to where they lived) a proportion are prepared to travel further afield.

Many Access to HE students often don’t have access to the range of sources of information and advice available to school leavers, so we are giving all Access to HE students across England and Wales the opportunity to come to London to talk to exhibiting universities. Last year students travelled hundreds of miles to attend the event. We also offer free workshops on funding HE studies and making applications specifically for these students.

Further information:


13 October 2016: Reforming careers advice and guidance in England, central London

Delegates at this conference will consider the further steps that can be taken by Government, schools and others to improve the standard of careers advice and guidance in England. The conference is scheduled to follow the publication of the Government’s new comprehensive careers strategy, expected to be published later this year.
Discussion will also be informed by the findings of the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy’s current inquiry on Careers advice, information and guidance and a keynote address from the committee’s co-chair Neil Carmichael MP.
Delegates will consider opportunities for improving the quality, consistency and impartiality of careers provision within schools, including the options for extending careers education throughout a student’s time in education and at key transition points when they are making important educational choices. Further sessions will explore the challenges for balancing local and national approaches to careers advice, improving employer engagement, and the role of careers advice within the Government’s Apprenticeship strategy for England.
Keynote addresses from Neil Carmichael MP, Chair, Education, Skills and the Economy Sub-Committee; Claudia Harris, Chief Executive Officer, The Careers & Enterprise Company; Joe Billington, Director of the National Careers Service, Skills Funding Agency and Paul Warner, Director of Policy and Strategy, Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP).
Further information:


19 October 2016: Higher Education Admissions. Central London

This CAPITA organised conference provides crucial insight into the leading strategies for developing effective recruitment and admissions procedures. With the removal of student control numbers and recent reforms to secondary and further education assessment, there has never been a more critical time to ensure your institution is well placed to attract the best applicants in this increasingly competitive environment.
Designed to address the most pertinent issues for recruitment and admissions professionals, this event covers key topics including predicting candidates’ grades in the absence of AS level results, utilising incentives to attract high calibre applicants, and assessing the impact of contextual admissions on improving access to higher education. Hear from UCAS and Ofqual on the impact of qualification
reform on the admissions process for universities. Understand the leading approaches for increasing participation among students from disadvantaged backgrounds by utilising evidence based approaches. Examine the anticipated effect of core maths on academic
development in higher education. Take away expert advice on the consequences of increased
competition on delivering a fair and transparent admissions policy. Explore the implications of reformed qualifications on higher education institutions. Discuss the potential ramifications of withdrawing from the European Union on attracting international students.

Further information:
19 October 2016: Understanding the Challenge: best practice in supporting
estranged students into and through HE.
Woburn House, London.
Many universities are already offering support for this cohort. This Stand Alone
conference will provide a space to hear about good practice already implemented
at a number of university and to share  experiences working with this group of
vulnerable students. We will discuss the issues facing estranged students and
how we can do more to provide them with the right information, advice and
support to progress into HE and to succeed on course.

Further information:


19 October 2016: Higher Education Admissions, central London

This Capita conference provides crucial insight into the leading strategies for developing effective recruitment and admissions procedures. With the removal of student control numbers and recent reforms to secondary and further education assessment, there has never been a more critical time to ensure your institution is well placed to attract the best applicants in this increasingly competitive environment. Designed to address the most pertinent issues for recruitment and admissions professionals, this event covers key topics including predicting candidates’ grades in the absence of AS level results, utilising incentives to attract high calibre applicants, and assessing the impact of contextual admissions on improving access to higher education.

Keynotes from: UCAS, Ofqual, HEFCE, HELOA. Further information:


25 October 2016: Widening Participation in HE Conference 2016: Access for all, University of Salford

An update on government legislation, panel discussions with widening participation experts, case studies on effective strategies for supporting disadvantaged students entering higher education and networking with other professionals who face similar challenges every day.

high level speakers will give their views on the debate surrounding widening participation and the importance of helping disadvantaged students overcome barriers to entering higher education in light of the serious disadvantages they face in comparison to their non – disadvantaged peers.

Further information:


2 November 2016: Next steps for improving 16-19 provision in England, Westminster Education Forum seminar, central London

This conference will focus on key issues and next steps for 16-19 providers as the Government reviews post-16 education and training, and will focus on key issues and next steps for 16-19 providers as the government reviews post-16 education and training, as wellas the likely impact of the on-going area reviews on 16-19 providers including any potential changes to funding, the range of qualifications offered and changes to the organisational structures of FE colleges.

In light of this, sessions will also look at options that can support 16-19 education and training providers to deal with financial and budgetary constraints facing the sector including better management of finances, considering a move to academy status, collaborative cost-saving partnerships, and streamlining intervention measures when a college runs into difficulties.

Other topics for discussion: efficiency in the FE sector; post-16 qualifications; delivering post-16 Maths and English; the new Progress 8 performance measure; Employer engagement; and access to higher education.

Keynote addresses from: Dr David Collins, Further Education Commissioner, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills; Martin Doel, Chief Executive, Association of College; Kevin Gilmartin, Colleges Specialist, ASCL; Sue Southwood, Programme Manager, Professional Standards and Workforce Development, Education and Training Foundation; Paul Warner, Director of Policy and Strategy, Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) and John Winkley, Director, AlphaPlus Consultancy and Chair of Academy Trustees, Beckfoot Trust. Further information:


3 November 2016: Policy priorities for SEND – implementing local area inspections, raising educational outcomes and extending support for families, central London

Bringing together key stakeholders and policymakers from across the education sector, this seminar will consider policy priorities for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). It is being scheduled to discuss early indications from the implementation of a new joint Ofsted-Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection framework for SEND services, to be introduced from May 2016, which will assess how effectively local areas are meeting their obligation towards children with special educational needs.
Planned sessions will also look at measures to improve the educational attainment of children with SEND, including government’s new review into assessment of pupils with lower attainment. Delegates will also assess the implementation and progress to date of the SEND Code of Practice - two years on from its introduction.
Speakers include Dr Adam Boddison, Chief Executive, NASEN; Nigel Thompson, Head of Children and Health & Justice; a senior speaker from SENJIT (Special Educational Needs Joint Initiative for Training), Institute of Education, University College London; Matthew Ellis, Associate Director, South West Maternity and Children’s Strategic Clinical Network, NHS England; Simon Knight, Deputy Headteacher, Frank Wise School, Oxfordshire; Laxmi Patel, Solicitor and Head of Education, Boyes Turner and Julie Stockdale, Head of Schools & Commissioning, Surrey County Council have also agreed to speak.

Further information:


9 November 2016: Access to HE Summit, Action on Access and Universities UK conference, Woburn Conference Centre, London. The annual Access to HE Summit takes place on 9th November this year. Please put this date in your diary now (beware both the 8th and 10th November have been dates advertised for the Summit – it is definitely to be held on Wednesday 9 November 2016.). The programme will be finalised nearer the time but you can be sure the conference will be ultimately unmissable.


16 November 2016: HE Admissions Fair for Access to HE students, the Centre for Life in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

This event will bring together HE, HE in FE and Access provider partners as well as other key stakeholders with an interest in widening participation in Higher Education and will be promoted across all Access to HE providers in the North of England and flyers will be sent to over 2500 students studying the Access to HE Diploma this academic year.

The event is exclusively for students on QAA-recognised Access to HE courses ands provides the opportunity for prospective students to talk to representatives of universities and colleges in the North of England and discuss their nature student offer, to find out more about applications and admissions, and to attend free workshops on applications, student finance and funding opportunities. Further information:


24 November 2016: The Teaching Excellence Framework – implications and implementation, Central London

This Westminster Higher Education Forum Keynote Seminar provides an opportunity to discuss the likely impact of the TEF and the challenges for its implementation. Areas for discussion include: design of TEF and the impact of the initial set of metrics on student satisfaction, retention and graduate employment rates; the potential set of further metrics for the latter stages of TEF, including measuring the quality of learning environments, ‘learning gain’ and ‘teaching intensity’; implementation of TEF including the timetable for introduction; and the likely future extension beyond an institution-wide assessment model to a subject-level system.

Speakers include: Chris Millward, Director (Policy), HEFCE; Dr Jules Holroyd, University of Sheffield; Dr Liz Marr, The Open University; Bill Rammell, University of Bedfordshire; Sir Anthony Seldon, University of Buckingham; Dr Geoff Stoakes, Higher Education Academy; Chris White, Bellenden Public Affairs and former Government Special Adviser and a senior speaker confirmed from the QAA

Further information:


29-30 November 2016: ECU’s 2016 conference, Nottingham.

The theme will be Connect, collaborate, share: building the equality community in HE. The conference aims to foster connections between institutions on common areas of their equality work and to build a stronger community of practice for equality in HE.

Bookings for the conference will open in July.

Further information:


29 November 2016: Supporting the Long Term Success of Care Experienced Students in Education, (National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL) 4th national conference, University of the West of England, Bristol

Conference themes, relating to all services and institutions in the team around the child:
Engaging – how do professionals successfully engage children from an early age in their education and in seeking to achieve positive aspirational outcomes
Retaining – what works best to keep young people engaged in education at all levels, and how do we retain young people in care and leaving care in their education.
Empowering – what protective factors enable young people to succeed pre and post entry to HE and what part does resilience play, and how can young people be empowered to make the right decisions.

NNECL are inviting all stakeholders including colleagues at HEIs, FE colleges, charities, academics and local authorities (including virtual schools and leaving care teams) to submit proposals for 30-minute plenary sessions and 60 to 90 minute workshops. Please indicate on your submission whether the workshop is aimed at Beginner, Intermediary, Advanced or All levels. Workshops should be interactive and include opportunities for discussion and sharing of good practice.

Please submit proposals by email to The deadline for submissions is Monday 1 August. Further information:


8 December 2016: Priorities for skills development and apprenticeships policy, central Edinburgh

Guest of Honour: Senior speaker from Skills Development Scotland

This seminar will provide a timely opportunity to discuss the policy priorities for skills development in Scotland, bringing together key policymakers in the Scottish Government and Parliament with stakeholders in education and training, including schools, colleges, training providers, awarding bodies and skills professionals, and the wider business community. It takes place in the context of the 2016 annual report on the Scottish Government’s Developing the Young Workforce strategy for reducing youth unemployment, due to be published in December 2016.
Sessions will assess progress being made, and next steps, in key areas outlined in the strategy including the development of college partnerships, senior vocational pathways, and measures to encourage employer engagement with Scottish youth. Delegates will also consider plans to reduce gender imbalance and stereotyping within education and employment, in addition to the potential impact of the new Professional Baccalaureate qualification. Further sessions will discuss the direction of apprenticeships policy in Scotland, with the Apprenticeship Levy due to be introduced as of April 2017 and Foundation Apprenticeships to be rolled out in every secondary school by 2020.
At this early stage further speakers include: Russell Gunson, Director, IPPR Scotland; Julie-Anne Jamieson, Chair of Scotland Committee, Career Development Institute; Barry McCulloch, Senior Policy Advisor, Federation of Small Businesses; Joanna Murphy, Vice-Chair, National Parent Forum of Scotland and Iain White, Principal, Newlands Junior College.

Further information:


26 January 2017: Improving disabled students’ experience – funding, facilities and support services, Westminster Higher Education Forum Keynote Seminar, London

This seminar will explore the challenges and opportunities for improving disabled students’ experience in Higher Education. It follows Government reforms to the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) – scheduled to take effect in the 2016-17 academic year – which include new restrictions to eligibility for financing non-medical help, and changes to the funding for specialist accommodation and equipment for disabled students.

Sessions will focus on the initial impact of these changes and how universities can respond to maintain effective support for disabled students, as well as best practice in improving campus accessibility and next steps for policy and practice in order to further widen participation for prospective students with disabilities.

Speakers include: Sarah Howls, Head of Student Opportunity, HEFCE; Professor Geoff Layer, Vice Chancellor, University of Wolverhampton and Chair, The Disabled Students Sector Leadership Group and Paul Williams, Deputy Director, Student Finance Policy, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills; Chris Brill, Equality Challenge Unit; Dr John Conway, Royal Agricultural University   Association of Disability Practitioners; John Lamb, British Assistive Technology Association; Mei-Yee Man Oram, ARUP and Liz Sayce, Disability Rights UK

Further information:


21 February 2016: Developing your OFFA access agreement for 2018/19, with OFFA and UUK at the Woburn conference Centre, London.

Another date for your diaries for this fourth annual conference with its always timely conversation between OFFA and higher education providers about planning and writing  access agreements. Information to follow later in the year.


2 March 2017: TSS The Skills Summit, London

The seventh annual Skills Summit 2017 gives you the chance to hear post-Brexit opinion on the future of Apprenticeships, technical education and workplace learning. Register places for your organisation before July 18th and receive a 10% discount. Take part in over 15 sessions and develop your understanding of:

Apprenticeships: the implementation and impact of reforms

Post-16 education and training: how will the Skills Plan affect you?

Learning and development: how can we use digital more effectively?

Speakers include:

David Hill, Director of Apprenticeships, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills / Department for Education

Mark Dawe, Chief Executive, AELP

David Hughes, Chief Executive, AoC

Further information:


4-6 July 2017: Generation TEF: Teaching in the spotlight, Higher Education Academy annual conference 2017, University of Manchester

Structured over three days, the conference will provide a platform for higher education professionals to share their experiences, ideas, research and good practice in a community of their peers and learn from internationally respected speakers. A new conference format allows for cross-fertilisation of pedagogies, with a day dedicated to addressing sector priorities, such as retention, assessment and employability, sandwiched between two days of discipline-led activities. The Annual Conference is an ideal opportunity to meet like-minded peers, build networks, and expand your knowledge of sector issues and innovations, thus strengthening your own professional practice and reputation.

New for 2017 is the introduction of the HEA Annual Debate and dinner. We will be crowdsourcing ideas for the proposed motion from our communities and networks in the coming months.

Further information: