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 November 2016: Re-thinking the Tertiary System: the future of learning and work, Unison HQ, London

The Open University, Association of Colleges and Action on Access one day conference to look at non-traditional routes to HE, supporting lifelong learning and upskilling/reskilling the UK workforce. Keynotes from senior colleagues including Ruth Spellman, CEO, Workers Education Association, David Hughes, CEO Association of Colleges and more.  We will also be running a range of interesting and topical workshops on subjects such as apprenticeships, the role of technical and professional education, alternative routes covering both the public and private sectors.  The conference will be held at the Unison HQ in London. Please save the date – 21 November 2016. There will be a small charge to attend – further details to follow.

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.


26 October 2016: Decolonising the University, Bournemouth University

This workshop seeks to provide participants with an opportunity to: understand the historical background to racial diversity in the Higher Education context: critically reflect on their own thinking and practice in relation to diversity and inclusivity; think about the scale and nature of the challenge at the institutional level; consider and develop action strategies for meeting the challenge. Main speakers: Dr Josephine Kwhali  and Dr Gurnam Singh Coventry University.

Further information:


1 November 2016: University Attainment & Outcomes by Ethnicity: Understanding and Tackling Differences, Westminster Forum, London

Despite positive work, students of different ethnicity still have different degree outcomes. Attend this Westminster Briefing event to hear from Sarah Howls, Head of Student Opportunity, HEFCE and our panel about how the sector is prioritising this area and how different institutions are tackling the disparities between ethnic groups in access, attainment & outcomes.

Delegates will have the chance to learn exactly what their legal responsibilities are in this area, discuss how to work in partnership with minority communities and review the findings from the Equality Challenge Unit’s Equality Charter process. You will also hear the latest good practice from HEIs across the country for you to take back and implement within your institution.

Speakers include: Sarah Howls, HEFCE; Claire Herbert, ECU; Niaomi Collett, Kings College London; Nona McDuff, University of Kingston & Chair, HERAG; Jane Tope, University of Birmingham; Dr Gurnam Singh, Coventry University & University of Chester.

Some key conference issues will include: a whole-institution approach to tackling ethnicity-related disparities in access, attainment and outcomes; understanding the legal responsibilities that institutions have in this area; tackling differences in student experience

The morning session will look at the current policy situation, touching on implications for institutions and students, which will be explored further in the afternoon session through sharing experiences and good practice.

Further information:


2 November 2016: SPA unconscious bias staff development events, London 

Featuring expert contributions from SPA, ECU and HELOA, these interactive events will explore how HE providers can manage the risk of unconscious bias in student recruitment and admissions. The events are open to all staff – from colleges and universities – involved in admissions, schools and college liaison, student recruitment, and transition.

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:


2 November 2016: Improving Student Finance IAG: NEON & UCU Summit, Central London
Back in June the National Education Opportunities Network (NEON), supported by the University and College Union (UCU) published their 2016 report, “Does Cost Matter”.
The report considers students’ understanding of the higher education finance system and how cost affects their decisions. Amongst the key findings were:
The removal of grants has further constrained HE choices;
There are significant and worrying gaps in knowledge of the HE finance system;
Students not applying for HE are more debt averse;
Widening access students may be more price sensitive.
This event brings together key speakers from the higher education sector to discuss how we can react to the findings and ensure prospective students are able both to access and fully understand the financial aspect of higher education.
Speakers from: Student Loans Company, UCAS; PUSH; Canterbury Christ Church University; National Education Opportunities Network; University and College Union; and there is a Student Panel
Further information:


3 November 2016: The Careers, Education and Guidance summit, London

With a Government Careers Strategy scheduled for release, The Careers, Education & Guidance Summit 2016, held in partnership with Careers England, is the perfect opportunity for all stakeholders involved to take stock and hear from leading thinkers in the sector about what the future holds. The conference will cover the following topics: the Government’s strategy for improving careers provision by 2020; measuring the impact of CIAG; driving up the quality of careers education, advice & guidance; celebrating & Promoting Positive Steps through the “Quality in Careers Standard”; he future role of careers professionals in delivering improvement plans. Further information and to book:


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:


7 November 2016: Improving student well-being: behavioural risks, active lifestyles and addressing mental health, Westminster Higher Education Forum, central London

This seminar will explore issues around the rising numbers of students suffering from mental health issues in higher education institutions, and wider aspects of student well-being including sexual health, nutrition, substance abuse and active lifestyles. It comes amid concerns in the sector regarding the rising number of students suffering from mental health issues and – in a report commissioned by HEFCE – a mismatch in the services available for them.
Areas for discussion include the current state of student health in the UK and the key challenges facing university health services for improving the quality of and access to mental health services for students – as well as steps universities can take to better identify and react to students in need of support. Delegates will also consider latest thinking on how to address the causes in the rise in student mental health problems. Further sessions look more widely at ways forward for improving students’ all-round health and well-being in the areas of nutrition and diet, sexual health, and encouraging active lifestyles, as well as tackling alcohol and drug abuse.
Further information:


9 November 2016: 6th annual Access to HE and Student Success Summit, Action on Access and Universities UK, Woburn Conference Centre, London.

The 6th Annual Access to Higher Education and Student Success Summit will once again debate, assess and explore current access, participation and student success issues in HE; including a unique early opportunity to hear and discuss the findings, analysis, and recommendations made by the cross sector Social Mobility Advisory Group invited by government to explore what universities are doing that works and address what more needs to be done.

Speakers at the Summit include: Les Ebdon Director OFFA; Chris Millward, Director, Policy, the HEFCE; Jane Chafer, Director of Communications and Corporate Affair, University of Exeter and Vice Chair, Universities’ Marketing Forum; Nicola Dandridge Chief Exec, Universities UK; representatives from each of the sectors represented on the Social Mobility Advisory Group; and workshops tackling current areas of interest for practitioners. We are expecting a ministerial address (yet to be confirmed).

Some of the key themes of the summit are: the findings and recommendations of the Social Mobility Advisory Group; how the sector might take the Social Mobility Advisory Group recommendations forward; student retention and success; inclusion (BME students, white working class boys, disabled students); collaborations with schools and colleges; and marketization, the threats and opportunities.

Further information:


9 November 2016: Engineering Professors’ Council Recruitment and Admissions Forum 2016,Instituion of Mechanical Engineers, London

A packed and informative programme for all those working in recruitment and admissions to UK higher education engineering courses.

We will be revealing the results of our annual early enrolments survey so you can see how your department is performing compared to others in the engineering sector. Keynote from Johnny Rich, Chief Executive of Push & Executive Director of the EPC on how students makes choices. The forum’s main programme will be a series of workshops and including changes in mathematics and physics A levels, recruitment across the devolved nations, how to encourage more students to study engineering, and recruitment of international students.

Cost is £50 for EPC members, £60 for non-members – further delegates from the same institution can attend at a 20% discount.

Please contact the Engineering Professor’s Council:

with any queries. Further information:


15 November 2016: Building for progression – a foot on the ladder, ASDAN, Progression Trust, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, London

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation funded work, led by ASDAN (Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network) with The Progression Trust, on pupil progression at transition from primary to secondary school is producing materials and support for all learners – including those least advantaged – to be able to develop awareness and aspiration as a means of supporting increased attainment.

A similar theme on the need for early intervention is echoed in the recent UCAS report: ‘Through the lens of students: how perceptions of higher education influence applicants’ choices’. (UCAS 21st July 2016). Mary Curnock Cook, UCAS Chief Executive said: “This report is clear: the earlier children set their sights on university, the more likely they are to go. We need to reset the barometer reading for progression to HE to a much earlier age – ten or younger. Having a focus on university helps provide the rationale for working hard and doing well at GCSEs which is the strongest predictor of success in higher education.” See ASDAN news item Wealthier students ‘plan university applications earlier’ and a recent Teach First Progression Report.

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation project on primary to secondary school transition will be reporting its findings and outcomes at an event on November 15th in London with Sir Tim Brighouse. For further information about this event and to register interest contact heading your email: ‘Progression for Transition London dissemination’.


15 November 2016: Supporting School Attainment, London

NEON is hosting a one day Access Academy Training session focusing on how to work successfully with schools in order to support school attainment. The session will consider the challenges and opportunities of engaging with schools to support increased attainment amongst disadvantaged pupils.  During the day delegates will: gain a deeper understanding of the strategic priorities for schools and understand how widening access can support these aims; review the current curriculum to look for opportunities for higher education to engage with and support school attainment; discuss ways forward and develop their own action plan to implement back in their own institutions; hear from widening access practitioners about the current work they do in order to support school attainment.

Further information:


16 November 2016: Widening Participation Together: Achievements of the National Networks for Collaborative Outreach, Prospero House London

This conference is to celebrate the key achievements of the National Networks for Collaborative Outreach scheme. The scheme built networks of higher education providers to help co-ordinate the outreach activity offered to schools. This conference will showcase the work of the networks, offer an opportunity to demonstrate effective practice and share the emerging findings from the scheme’s evaluation.

The conference will be of interest to everyone across the education sector interested in providing choice to young people deciding on their next steps after school and college. Please register for the conference Tuesday 1 November 2016. Attendance is free but spaces are limited and allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. If you have any queries about the event please do not hesitate to contact the conference team on

Further information:


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 parti