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


  WP Events for your diaries


                                 CALENDAR OF EVENTS


25 January 2019: Rethinking curriculum design: building opportunities for credit transfer/RPL and inclusivity, London

The seminar looks at a number of credit transfer, and recognition of prior learning programmes across the UK, featuring speakers from QAA, the Universities of Strathclyde, Chester and Brighton, and the OU.

More information:


28 January 2019: Priorities for student mental health: developing the new University Mental Health Charter, facilitating the school-university transition and improving co-ordination between support providers, Westminster Higher Education Forum Keynote Seminar, London

The conference will be an opportunity for stakeholders and policymakers to examine the priorities for student mental health and discuss the development of the Universities Minister’s University Mental Health Charter together with his announcement of a series of new measures and wider issues for universities as they seek to improve their provision of mental health services.  The agenda also looks at the transition for students from school and college to university, as the Department for Education prepares to set up a working group looking at potential ways to ensure that students get the best possible support, particularly in their first year at university.

Expected areas for discussion include: identifying students at risk; supporting first year university students; embedding mental wellbeing into curricula; tackling organisational and cultural challenges.

Keynote addresses from: Yvonne Hawkins, Director, Teaching Excellence and Student Experience, Office for Students; Rosie Tressler, Chief Executive Officer, Student Minds; Dom Kingaby, Student Experience Policy Lead, Mental Health, Department for Education; Sue Baillie, Pastoral Director, Royal Grammar School, Newcastle; Paul Jenkins, Chief Executive, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust; Siân Jones-Davies, Senior Associate, Eversheds Sutherland; Dr Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Founder and Chief Executive Officer, stem4; Dr Denise Meyer, Head of Wellbeing, University of Portsmouth Student Wellbeing Service; Rowan Munson, Student; Rachel O’Brien, Disabled Students’ Officer, National Union of Students; Stuart Rimmer, Chief Executive Officer & Principal, East Coast College; Professor Judith Squires, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Education and Students, University of Bristol and a senior speaker confirmed from the Office for National Statistics.  Further information:


28 February 2019: Evaluating WP initiatives: overcoming the challenges

This event is in direct response to the Office for Students drive for more evidence-based practice and will enable delegates to experience the new evaluation self-assessment toolkit first hand, prior to its implementation in the 2020/21 Access and Participation plans.  This is a must for any colleague directly involved in evaluating widening participation outreach and success initiatives as well as those involved in developing and reporting on Access and Participation Plan spend.

The event will be opened by the OU’s interim Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students), Dr Liz Marr, with keynotes from Annette Hayton, co-author of the recently published book Evaluating Equity and Widening Participation in Higher Education and Richard Shiner, Policy Advisor, Office for Students (OFS), plus hands-on workshops that will expose delegates to a number of evaluation toolkits.

The event is jointly hosted by the OU, Queens University Belfast and supported by the Forum for Access and Continuing Education (FACE).  Delegates who are members of staff or of FACE are eligible for a discounted rate.  Further information:


29 January 2019: New to Programme Leadership: Embedding Mental Wellbeing in the Curriculum workshop, Advance HE, York

The workshop enables lecturers, programme leaders and other interested parties to find out more about teaching and learning activities complementing those offered by student services, forming part of a broader ‘whole university’ approach to wellbeing and student retention. Advance HE is distinctive in its approach to embedding solutions on mental wellbeing in and through the curriculum. These solutions are designed to benefit and improve outcomes for all students, not only those suffering from stress and anxiety.

“Mental wellbeing is a critical issue within the sector, something that increasing numbers of people within higher education are keen to address,” says Joan O’ Mahony, the Advance HE Academic Lead for Retention. “At Advance HE we know that academics and teaching staff want to do their bit. This workshop enables them to do that by embedding solutions in and through the curriculum. The standard approach of directing students to student support services helps, but it’s not nearly enough.”

Further information:


30-31 January 2019: STEM conference 2019: Delivering next generation teaching in STEM, Advance HE, Millennium Point, Birmingham

This two-day conference, featuring a mix of peer-led workshops, presentations and respected keynotes will provide a forum for each of the individual STEM disciplines as well as opportunities to learn from cross-disciplinary practice.

The call for papers is now open until 31 October 2018 and our 15% early bird discount will apply. We are asking for proposals that address one of five propositions, which explore themes around covering topics such as: interdisciplinary approaches to learning and teaching in STEM; innovation; technology; equality, diversity and inclusion; and leadership.

The deadline for submissions is 31 October 2018. Further information:


30 January 2019: Addressing attainment gaps in HE: What can be done?’ London
There are stark gaps in attainment between different groups of students. Research has often focussed upon the gap between certain ethnic groups and this has become a vital area for higher education institutions to address. More recently the gaps in attainment, and future earnings, for those from lower social classes has been highlighted.
NEON are holding this event to bring together practitioners, researchers and policy makers to discuss the importance of understanding these gaps and the steps that can be taken to eliminate them in the future.
Further information:


1 February 2019: Decolonising the curriculum: what’s all the fuss about?, Birkbeck, University of London
This event will provide an opportunity for colleagues from across Birkbeck and beyond to engage with the ‘decolonising the curriculum’ in higher education debate. Contributors will include Dr William Ackah, lecturer in community and voluntary sector studies at Birkbeck, Ezimma Chigbo from the Birkbeck Students’ Union and Dr Kerry Harman, from Birkbeck’s Research Centre for Social Change and Transformation in Higher Education.
Professor Gurminder Bhambra and Dr Meera Sabaratnam, will speak on their experience of both the theory and practice of ‘decolonising the curriculum’. Professor Bhambra recently co-edited the publication ‘Decolonising the University ‘, which considers the historical and discipliniary context of the decolonising the university movement, and includes contributions offering practical suggestions and discussion of broader theoretical questions. Dr Sabaratnam has played a leading role in developments to decolonise the curriculum at SOAS, University of London, as well as contributing to the ongoing national debate.

In a 2017 blog article, ‘Decolonising the curriculum: what’s all the fuss about?’ Dr Sabaratnam offered three reasons why it can improve academic practice: by challenging assumptions and biases; asking questions about the relationship between writers and their identity and location; and challenging us consider the diversity of the student population and the implication of this for pedagogy and attainment.
The event aims to raise the profile of this important topic and enable Birkbeck colleagues to share good practice and learn from the experience of colleagues from other institutions. Following the speakers there will be space for discussion on what further steps can be taken to encourage good pedagogical practice and recognition for change.
To book onto the event:


14 February 2019:  Advancing Access teacher and advisor CPD event, Thomas Gainsborough School, Suffolk
This is a completely free all day event led by a large number of our Russell Group university partners. Advancing Access CPD events are focused on equipping teachers and advisors with the knowledge and skills they need to best support their students to access competitive universities and therefore this event is relevant to any state school teachers and advisors who you think may benefit from attending.

Further information:


28th February 2019: Evaluating WP initiatives: overcoming the Challenges, Open University, Milton Keynes

The OU’s Widening Access and Success Research and Evaluation team are hosting a joint, one-day workshop with Queens University Belfast and supported by the Forum for Access and Continuing Education (FACE).  The event will explore the challenges facing HE providers in relation to evaluating the impact of their widening participation initiatives.

Further information:


12 March 2019: Next steps for widening participation in higher education – developing collaboration between schools and universities, supporting disadvantaged groups and key priorities following the OfS review, Westminster Higher Education Forum Keynote Seminar, central London

Discuss the on-going review by Office for Students (OfS) of its approach to fair access and participation in higher education.  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, the impact of the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP) so far, and consider how partnerships between schools, colleges and universities can increase participation among disadvantaged groups through raising aspiration and improving pupil attainment.  Further planned sessions discuss other strategies for widening participation which go beyond the NCOP.

Speakers include: Ben Jordan, Senior Policy and Qualifications Manager, UCAS; Jessica Woodsford, Head of Programmes, Fair Access and Participation, Office for Students; Professor Tim Blackman, Vice-Chancellor, Middlesex University; Lindsey Bowes, Research Director, CFE Research; Laura Bruce, Acting Head of Programmes and Partnerships, The Sutton Trust; Rabia Lemahieu, Disability and Skills Manager, Disability Rights UK; Alexander Proudfoot, Chief Executive, Independent HE; 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 and Ilyas Nagdee, Black Students Officer, NUS.

Further information:


27 March 2019: Assessment: impacts on widening access and success, 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.


10 April 2019: Access to HE Forum, The Studio Birmingham 

T he QAA is holding its first Access to HE Forum on 10 April 2019 at the Studio, Birmingham and invite you to attend this free event.  The event brings together Access to HE professionals in further and higher education, awarding bodies, employers, students, funders and policy makers to discuss five challenges: mental health; funding; student perspective; policy; employability skills .  Recognising people face complex problems and that challenges cross boundaries, our speakers come from a range of backgrounds. The challenge to event participants is to identify actions to address these issues.

The Access to Higher Education Diploma is a nationally recognised level three qualification which is specifically developed for adults and has successfully prepared over 25,000 people to transition to higher education each year.  Being custodian of the Diploma has been one of QAA’s most significant achievements.

It changes lives, which is a fundamental purpose of higher education, and has been supported and developed by QAA over the last 25+ years.

There are both threats and challenges for qualifications such as Access to HE Diplomas, among them the extension of Advanced Learner Loans to those aged over 19 since 201617; the replacement of NHS bursaries with loan funding in England; the introduction of degree apprenticeships in nursing and other health-related occupations; devolution of the Adult Education Budget; and area reviews of colleges.  Come to the Forum and explore the many valuable opportunities for Access to Higher Education Diplomas that will both inform and support many of these challenges.  Further information:


10-12 April 2019: UALL Annual Conference 2019, Telford Innovation Campus, Telford.

Telford, the home of the Industrial Revolution: in keeping with this Universities Association for Lifelong Learning conference will focus on these three themes:

Learning and Place: focusing on where innovation occurs including both the role of learning in responding to innovation and new initiatives linked to place and the way learning is embedded in it

Transformational change: focusing on how innovation occurs and the link to Lifelong Learning for example emerging technologies, practice based approaches

Innovation in Daily Life and Lifelong Learning: focusing on ensuring that innovation is shared by all for example innovative inclusive or accessible responses to learning in work, leisure, travel education.

The Conference is underpinned by three principles: Inclusion; Sustainable futures; and Lifelong Learning practice in order to respond to a changing world.

Speakers include Professor Mark Brown, Dublin City University.

Further information:


30 April 2019: Next steps for degree apprenticeships in England – funding, quality assurance and widening participation, Westminster Higher Education Forum Keynote Seminar, central London

This conference will examine the next steps for degree apprenticeships in England, focusing on funding, quality assurance and widening participation.  Delegates will discuss the future funding challenges for degree apprenticeships – including the impact of the apprenticeship levy on their expansion and the future of the OfS’s Degree Apprenticeship Development Fund, which is in its second wave and due for review by the OfS in 2019; IfA’s announcement of a six-fold increase in new apprenticeships in 2017/18 compared to the previous academic year, of which 66% were levy-supported starts; the likely impact on the affordability of degree apprenticeships of the Government’s review of post-18 education; the agenda looks at quality assurance, following concerns from the sector over which bodies, including the IfA, OfS and QAA, hold responsibility for ensuring quality of degree apprenticeships.

Delegates will discuss how universities and regulators can ensure comparability of degree apprenticeships with traditional forms of study.  Further sessions discuss strategies for widening participation and improving awareness of degree apprenticeships in schools and colleges, which have been outlined as a key focus of the National Apprenticeship Service for the next two years.

Speakers include: Jonathan Mitchell, Deputy Director, Standards Development, IfA; Dr Scott Court, Head, Quality Team, OfS; Dr Alison Felce, Standards and Frameworks Officer, QAA and Dr Brooke Storer-Church, Senior Policy Advisor, Skills, Fair Access and Participation Directorate, OfS;  Adrian Anderson, Chief Executive, University Vocational Awards Council; Tony Ellender, Emerging Talent Development Manager, Balfour Beatty; Anthony Impey, Chair, Skills and Apprenticeships Policy Board, FSB; Jane Mackay, PhD Candidate, Institute for Policy Research, University of Bath; Jenny Taylor, UK Foundation Leader, UK Early Professional Programmes, IBM; Rob Wall, Head of Policy, CMI; Ben Jordan, Senior Policy and Qualifications Manager, UCAS and David Willett, Director, Business Development Unit, The Open University.

Further information: and


6 May 2019: BME Leadership Summit,

We are delighted to announce that Professor Binna Kandola will be one of our keynote speakers at next year’s BME Leadership Summit. The event brings together the HE sector’s ‘agents of change’ and key decision-makers to discuss, debate and share good practice around advancing the race equality agenda.

This summit has been designed for senior leaders who are responsible for institutional and strategic change, those who are working towards race equality within HEIs and alumni (attendees and sponsors) of Diversifying Leadership and those leading their institutional Race Equality Charter Mark applications.

Attendees are expected to leave with: information about strategies to champion change at a national level and how HEIs can respond; insights about how to create and lead channels for change; ideas, stimulus and networks useful at a personal and institutional level; and having contributed to the shaping of national initiatives and next steps.

Further information:


8 May 2019: Surveys Conference, AdvanceHE conference, Bristol

This conference provides an opportunity to discuss and debate the potential of insights from surveys, metrics, qualitative research and wider methods of capturing the student voice.

Each Advance HE Surveys Conference brings together keynote speakers, papers, posters and workshops with an aim to explore real examples of how innovative approaches to measurement and feedback have been employed to deliver impactful findings which have driven real change.  Call for papers deadline 11 February 2019.

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.


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 Sir Michael Barber, Chair, Office for Students (OfS); Claire Fox, Director, The Academy of Ideas; Professor Sir 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

Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice Chancellor, University of Buckingham; Alistair Jarvis, CEO of Universities.

The early bird discount is on sale until 21st December 2018, 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.   Call for papers now open, deadline 21 January 2019.   Bookings will open in 2019.

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: FACE conference 2019, Sheffield Hallam University

Save the date and note the venue.  Information to follow

Further information at later date:


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.