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


  WP Events for your diaries


                                                      CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Advance information

Don’t miss ‘Collaborative Partnerships for Higher Education Access and Success:  Lessons from the Sector.’ 19 June 2019, Woburn House Conference Centre

This conference, a partnership between Action on Access and Universities UK, will explore the value and importance of collaborative partnership working in Higher Education to support access, participation, and student success, and how universities excel at this. The event will explore the working styles of collaboration and discuss case studies and initiatives which highlight collaborative and partnership working from a policy research and practice perspective.

The conference focuses on people responsible for and doing collaborative work that’s making a difference now, and will constructively examine and explore why collaborative partnership has so much to offer to widening participation and social mobility, and to Higher Education more widely.  See below for full details. Or visit:


And please hold in your diaries the date Wednesday 13 June 2019 for the Action on Access annual Widening Participation and Student Success Summit.



22 May 2019: Creative Approaches to Lifelong Learning: Perspectives on the mature student’s journey through higher education and beyond, The Universities’ Association for Lifelong Learning (UALL) Student Experience Network, Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield

UALL’s annual one-day event, taking a holistic approach to the experiences of part time, mature and widening participation learners throughout their higher education journey, from first contact through to post-graduation.
What to expect:  This will be a participative, collaborative event to share creative ideas and good practice: ‘what works’ (or not!). Come prepared to bring and share your own experiences and practice.
Focused discussions around three key areas: Building supportive relationships; Maintaining wellbeing; Lifelong support for lifelong learners.



23 May 2019: Advance HE Student Retention and Success Symposium 2019, York.

The format for the day is to consider three areas that are key to institutional efforts to better enable student success; Student data, Student engagement, Student support.

The day will prioritise a series of questions, for example those listed below.  Further questions are invited at the point of submission and from delegates in advance of the day.

The symposium will be facilitated by Dr Joan O’ Mahony (Senior Advisor Advance HE) with guest commentator Professor Jacqueline Stevenson from Sheffield Hallam University.

Please note that delegate places including presenters are limited to a maximum of 40.

Aimed at Professional staff, academics, managers, students, planners, timetabling – anyone working to support student retention and success is warmly welcomed to join the symposium.

Further information:
23 May 2019: Supporting refugee learners, OU Milton Keynes

Hold the date.  This FREE half day seminar is part of the regular programme of seminars from the Widening Access and Success team at The Open University is open to all with an interest in improving how higher education can better support students with mental health issues.  More information to follow.



23 May 2019: ‘Neurodivergent Voices: good practice in the workplace’, Westminster AchieveAbility Commission (WAC) Research Seminar, University of Westminster, The Cayley Room, 309 Regent Street, 

A research seminar profiling good practice in the workplace for the neurodivergent which aims to disseminate the profiled case study papers/ presentations within an E-Journal. Outcome: to inform and influence best practice in the workplace.

AchieveAbility is a charity committed to shaping practice, to enhance education, training and employment opportunities for dyslexic and neurodivergent (ND) people. In 2018, AchieveAbility produced the Westminster AchieveAbility Commission (WAC) report Neuro-diverse voices opening doors to employment investigating the barriers to employment faced by neurodivergent people.

Following the findings of the report, and to facilitate discussion on how the workplace could be made more accessible, AchieveAbility is bringing together stakeholders in the Workplace and Neurodivergent community. The University of Westminster has kindly agreed to host this research seminar, which will investigate examples of good practice in the workplace for the Neurodivergent.

Programme commences at 1.00pm with lunch. Speakers include: Vice-Chancellor Dr Peter Bonfield, OBE FREng and Professor Debra Kelly, University of Westminster; Dr Ross Cooper, Chair of AchieveAbility Board, Editor and Co-Author of Neurodiverse Voices Report; Dr Katherine Hewlett, AchieveAbility Founder and CEO, Co-Author of Neurodiverse Voices Report.

And Panel 1 comprising: Gill Dix, Head of Workplace Policy and Tom Neil, Policy Adviser and Guidance Writer, ACAS; Andrew Pakes, Prospect’s Director of Communication and Research, Andrew Pakes; Jane Bryant, CEO Artswork Inclusive Practice; and Claire Cookson Deputy Chief Executive Officer, DFN Charitable Foundation.

Panel 2 comprising: Becki Morris, Founder Disability Collaborative Network; Richard Todd and Katherine Kindersley, Dyslexia Adult Network; Project Manager Sandy Marshall and Craig Kennady, Inclusion North.

4.00 pm Facilitated Discussion with Audience on Examples of Good Practice. Final Q and A with Panel Speakers (Chair, Professor Debra Kelly)

5.00-6pm Drinks Reception, Networking and Film Show.

To book a place – email:


3 June 2019: Future of Admissions NEON and UCU Summit, London
The NEON summit on the Monday 3rd June brings together the key organisations from across educational sectors together to examine what kind of admissions system we need that can best support students. It will look at recent research re-imagining the admissions system, include updates from sector bodies on their work in improving the system and examine how universities, colleges and schools are delivering admissions work.

The summit builds on the report released by UCU in January 2019 ‘Post-qualification application: a student-centred model for higher education admissions in England, Northern Ireland and Wales’ and will examine the challenges associated with the present admissions system and the opportunities for change.


11 June 2019: Universities, ‘whiteness’ and diversity: from understanding to action, University Centre Weston, Weston-super-Mare

The Western Widening Participation Research Cluster is hosting this free one-day Summer Conference on Tuesday 11th June, 9.30 – 16:00, Winter Gardens, University Centre Weston.

The university sector is keen to take action to change the attainment gap for BAME students, who remain less likely to be able to access high tariff institutions, progress on their course and achieve good grades, compared to their white counterparts.

This conference aims to provide colleagues from across the sector with opportunities to:

  • Share in current understandings of structures of ‘whiteness’ and how this operates in the HE sector;
  • Better understand the experiences of BAME students and staff within HEIs;
  • Find out about a range of successful initiatives to promote the existing capabilities of BAME students;
  • Follow up on areas of interest which are grounded in daily practice.

Keynote speakers: Dr Jason Arday (University of Wolverhampton); Professor Charlotte Chadderton (Bath Spa University); Dr Gurnam Singh (Coventry University).

Workshops will offer prompts for action and reflection based upon a range of research, interventions and innovative practice.


13 Jun 2019: Improving Student Retention, Universities UK, Woburn conference centre

This conference will cover all aspects of student retention, including a focus on student success, and how this implicates on institutions efforts to tackle the BME attainment gap.

Join us to discuss student retention with fellow professionals, hear a range of best practice case studies and receive the most up to date policy information you need.

This conference is not only an opportunity to hear from those currently researching and excelling in student retention but also to network with colleagues and experts, giving you the chance to discuss and learn from those in similar situations.

Student retention continues to be a key challenge facing universities, and one which is compounded by recent and on-going changes affecting the sector.  We are therefore pleased to run this timely national conference to provide guidance and share best practice, and inform knowledge of policy developments in this area.  Further information:


13-14 June 2019: ‘The third age of widening access’, NEON Summer Symposium, Lancaster University
The conference will look at how far we have come in widening access to higher education for under-represented groups, and where we want to go.  Can we learn from the experiences of the past 20 years? Can we make equitable access more central to the missions of HEIs, schools and employers than it has been in the past?  What do successful outcomes for under-represented learners look like?  Speakers include: Gordon Marsden MP, Minister for HE, FE and Skills; Prof Craig Gaskell, CEO University Academy 92; Sarah Howls, Head of Ac cess and Participation, OfS; Prof Steve Bradley, Interim Deputy VC,. Lancaster University; Andy Mellor, National President, NAHT; Jenny Ann Allen, Access and Participation Funding Manager, OfS; Dr Graeme Atherton, Director, NEON and Head, AccessHE.  Further information:


18 June 2019: ‘Gathering data and measuring outcomes’, Stand Alone Conference: University of Westminster

Measuring and evaluating the impact and effectiveness of interventions for estranged students is difficult without any national data sets available.

Stand Alone are running this conference together with the Office for Students for HE practitioners to look at what is expected from the new Access and Participation Plans and how to meet those expectations. We will discuss what are realistic outcomes that institutions can evaluate for estranged students and with the help of researchers and colleagues from the sector investigate how to go about gathering the data and information needed. We will also consider how to work sensitively and appropriately with data under GDPR regulations.


19 Jun 2019: Collaborative partnerships for Higher Education access and success: Lessons from the sector, central London

This conference, a partnership between Action on Access and Universities UK, will explore the value and importance of collaborative partnership working in Higher Education to support access, participation, and student success, and how universities can excel at this. The event will explore the working styles of collaboration; the creation of new and vital partnerships to support access and participation; and discuss case studies and initiatives which highlight collaborative and partnership working from a policy research and practice perspective.

‘Collaborative partnerships for HE access and success…’ will illuminate and illustrate to delegates examples of best practice, as part of a broader discussion about why and how collaboration and partnership works. It will in turn constructively examine and explore why collaborative partnership has so much to offer to widening participation and social mobility, and to Higher Education more widely.

The conference focuses on people responsible for and doing collaborative work that’s making a difference now: Nona McDuff OBE, Director for Student Achievement, Kingston University; Lizzie Johnson, Health and Wellbeing Manager, University of the West of England; Craig Woodfield, Education Coordinator, South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust and Dr Karen Winter, Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, Queens University Belfast; Gerard Lerpiniere, Director, LEAPS, Edinburgh and the Lothians; Alice Davies, Partnership Manager, Swansea University, First Campus project; Sharon Woodward-Baker, Programme Manager, NCOP and Mike Garnock-Jones, Director of the Higher Education Progression Partnership (HEPP); Helen Hall, UK Recruitment & Partnerships Director, Oxford Brookes; Barbara Herring, Senior Project Manager, Realising Opportunities. Keynote speakers include:

  • Professor Mary Stuart, Vice-Chancellor, University of Lincoln
  • Nicola Turner MBE, Head of Sector Practice, Office for Students
  • Nona McDuff OBE, Director for Student Achievement, Kingston University
  • Professor Simon Gaskell, Chair, QAA
  • Rob Cuthbert, Joint Managing Partner, Practical Academics and Emeritus Professor of Higher Education Management, University of the West of England
  • Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive, National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB).

Further information:


26-27 June 2019: 4th University of Buckingham Festival of Higher Education
The Festival will shape the current and future HE landscape with high profile announcements and policy steer. The 2018 Festival generated over half a million social media engagements and featured in 8 national newspapers.  If you already work in education and care about the future, or just want to engage in the debate, the Festival of Higher Education is for you.

already confirmed include: Amanda Spielman: Chief Inspector, Ofsted; David Laws, Executive Chair, Education Policy Institute; Professor Michael Barber, Chair, Office for Students (OfS); Claire Fox, Director, The Academy of Ideas; Professor Anton Muscatelli, Vice Chancellor, Glasgow University; Emran Mian. Director General (Interim) of FE and HE at the Department for Education; Mary Curnock Cook, Educationalist and former CEO of UCAS; Anthony Seldon, Vice Chancellor, University of Buckingham; Alistair Jarvis, CEO of Universities.

The early bird discount is on sale until 28th February 2019, giving you a reduced 2-day ticket price of £150 for both days.

Further information:


2-4 July 2019: Teaching & Learning Conference, AdvanceHE conference

Advance HE’s Annual Teaching and Learning Conference 2019 will position the spotlight firmly on teaching in a global context, in particular this year the conference will explore innovation for teaching excellence focusing on innovative teaching practices and pedagogies and seeking to uncover new practice which demonstrates or contributes to teaching excellence and is improving the student experience.

Taking place over three days, with more than 400 sessions, this sector-led conference provides attendees with the chance to share ideas, research, good practice and innovations with peers.

Further information:


2-4 July 2019: Adult Education 100: Reflections & Reconstructions, 2019 Standing Conference on University Teaching & Research in the Education of Adults, University of Nottingham

This conference is an opportunity for adult educators and scholars to join a global reflection on what the field has achieved across the world over the past century, on where we are now, and on how adult education should be “reconstructed” for the century ahead.

We invite proposals for papers and symposia that focus on theory, research, practice and policy in adult education and lifelong learning. We particularly encourage proposals that do so within the approaches and traditions advocated by the 1919 Report, or engage critically with its legacies. Proposals should be research-based. They may examine any aspect of adult education. “Adult education” embraces other field descriptors (lifelong learning, transformational learning, HRD, etc.).

Papers, proposals, projects, case studies and stories are all welcome.  Deadline for submission of abstracts:18th January 2019.  Proposals should be submitted as Word documents to:

Further information:

3-5 July 2019: ‘Delivering the Public Good of Higher Education – Widening Participation, Place and Lifelong Learning’, FACE conference 2019, Sheffield Hallam University

This years conference will be framed around 4 key themes:

  • Public good of Higher Education: Exploring and understanding the wider benefits of an inclusive Higher Education system
  • Widening Participation: Challenging and innovative approaches to access and success in HE and beyond
  • Place: Examining the impact of place and context on HE access and participation
  • Lifelong Learning: The role of HE institutionally, regionally, nationally and internationally in creating and delivering lifelong learning opportunities.

Early bird registration to 17 May 2019.  Further information:


4 July 2019: the 2019 Aimhigher Annual Conference, Aston University

The Aimhigher West Midlands Annual Conference is a great opportunity to network with colleagues, hear the latest updates and learn practical skills to engage with your learners. There is a selection of engaging workshops to choose from.

Further information:


10 July 2019: Closing the Black Attainment Gap, OU Milton Keynes

Hold the date.  This FREE half day seminar is part of the regular programme of seminars from the Widening Access and Success team at The Open University is open to all with an interest in improving how higher education can better support students with mental health issues.

More information to follow.


11 Jul 2019: Mental Health: a whole university approach, Universities UK, Woburn centre, London

In September 2017 UUK published #StepChange, calling for a ‘whole university approach’ on mental health. But what does this mean in practice? Join us to learn about emerging best practice, and hear testimony from Cardiff University, the University of York, and the University of the West of England on piloting such an approach.

Mental health is a priority for universities. We know it affects our relationships and our wellbeing. It determines how we learn, and our productivity. The way we understand and approach mental health may be our greatest challenge. Universities are in a unique position to tackle that challenge head on and help all students and staff thrive and realise their full potential. This conference will cover issues such as:

  • Auditing your own provision
  • Co-producing programs with students and staff
  • Creating a holistic mental health strategy
  • Working with the NHS, and much more.

This conference will be useful for all university staff thinking about their role in student wellbeing, but particularly to those who are thinking about developing, currently developing or renewing, or implementing their mental health strategies.


11 July 2019: How can schools support HE progression?, NEON Summit, London
This summit has been designed to help higher education providers engage more effectively with secondary schools. The event will include information about curriculum developments and the strategic positioning of widening access activities within school policy and planning.

During the event, delegates will:

  • Discuss the challenges of engaging with secondary schools
  • Hear from policymakers and other partners
  • Learn about Progress 8 and why it works
  • Examine working at primary level
  • Share best practice and discuss how to overcome challenges with colleagues from other institutions

Further information:


11-13 September 2019, ‘Measuring Excellence” in Higher Education: Approaches and their Impact’, Higher Education Institutional Research (HEIR) Conference 2019, City Centre Campus, University of Wolverhampton.

The HEIR conference is an international event that attracts delegates from across the Higher Education sector including: students, teachers, researchers, managers, data practitioners and institutional experts, quality professionals, educational developers, policy makers, digital service specialists, consultants, and all who share an interest in the future of education.

There is a call for submissions for this conference, deadline 26 April 2019.

Keynote presenters include: Professor Alis Oancea, Professor of Philosophy of Education and Research Policy and Director of Research, Oxford University Department of Education; Professor Dennis Hayes, Professor of Education and Chair of the College of Education Research Committee, University of Derby; Professor Ptetar Jandric; Professor of Informatics, Zagreb University of Applied Sciences, Croatia.


16­/17 September 2019: ‘Focus on Family Estrangement: Academic Conference’, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
This 2 day conference organised by Edge Hill University, Stand Alone and the University of Strathclyde will feature a range of talks, discussions, and networking opportunities with experts, researchers and leaders in the field of family estrangement.

This is the first worldwide academic conference on the topic of Family Estrangement with researchers from around the world invited to submit abstracts for presentations on their work relevant to increasing the understanding of relationships between family members aged 18+ who have a distant and/or inactive relationship with one another in terms of contact, communication and/or quality.  Researchers will come from a broad range of disciplinary backgrounds (psychology, sociology, education, family studies, communications studies, historians, social work, etc.).


14 October 2019: Supporting disabled students - widening participation, improving student success and accessible campus design, Westminster Higher Education Forum policy conference, central London

This seminar will examine priorities for improving support for disabled students in English universities.  The agenda includes discussion on practical steps that can be taken to deliver higher rates of disabled student participation, moving towards a more inclusive curricula through improving learning and teaching environments, and and compliance with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator’s Good Practice Framework.  Discussion will focus on the practical steps that can be taken by providers to deliver higher rates of disabled student participation, retention and success, as well as considering what further steps Government could take to support the sector in achieving these aims; on the Disabled Students Allowance and HEI responsibilities; disabled student experience and progression within university and into employment, and campus design, reasonable adjustments and treatment of complaints.

Speakers include in this seminar keynote addresses from: Greg Boone, Team Leader, Disabled Students’ Allowance, Department for Education and Christine Child, Adjudication Manager, Office of the Independent Adjudicator; Rabia Lemahieu, Disability and Skills Manager, Disability Rights UK; Dr Nasser Siabi, Chief Executive, Microlink; Steve Tyler, Director of Assistive Technology, Leonard Cheshire and Professor Val Williams, Emiritus Professor, Noah Fry Centre for Disabled Studies, University of Bristol.


17th October 2019: One Awards 2019 Higher Education Admissions Fair for Access to HE Students, Stadium of Light, Sunderland

Since 2016, when we hosted the first HE Admissions Fair for Access to HE Students in the North of England, the event has grown year on year.  We have received really positive feedback from students, tutors and exhibitors on the fantastic opportunities it provides and over 75% of students learnt something they didn’t know previously or discovered a new Higher Education Institution or Undergraduate course they were interested in.

We are delighted to continue to facilitate this important event which offers HE Institutions the opportunity to promote their courses, advice and support services to Access to HE students. The event will be promoted across all Access to HE providers in the North of England and information on the event will reach over 2500 students studying the Access to HE Diploma.

We are inviting all HEI’s to exhibit at the event.  The cost for exhibiting at the event is £200.00 per stand.  Further information:


13 November 2019: Action on Access’s Access 9th annual Higher Education and Student Success Summit, Woburn Conference Centre, London

Save the date: more information to follow.