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


  WP Events for your diaries

                                                      CALENDAR OF EVENTS



19 January, 23 February, 16 March & 20 April 2021: ‘Access Academy Training: Evaluating outreach work’ (4 Session Suite)
NEON is delighted to continue its programme of four full day training sessions around the evaluation of widening access activities. The events will be facilitated by Dr Graeme Atherton (Director, NEON & Head, AccessHE) and have been designed to cover key elements of the evaluation process.

These training sessions are available to both NEON members and non-members. NEON members can book the whole programme of four sessions at £396, the non-member organisation rate is £636. Regrettably, it is not possible to book on to individual sessions – delegates can only book the complete four session suite.

10am start until 4pm, online, the dates of the sessions are:

  • Session 1: Setting the evaluation strategy – Tuesday 19 January
  • Session 2: Collecting information – Tuesday 23 February
  • Session 3: Analysing information – Tuesday 16 March
  • Session 4: Making an impact – Tuesday 20 April.

This course will be particularly useful for practitioners working in an evaluation role (or managing such roles) who are seeking to develop their research skills in order to produce robust and methodologically sound assessments of their organisation’s widening access activities through a range of research methods.


21 January 2021, 10:00 – 11:00: briefing session on report, ‘Care to Go higher: Equipping key influencers of care-experienced young people’

The report has a specific focus on what HE providers and policymakers can learn from this approach to widening participation outreach work. Suggestions for policy and practice are discussed, including an approach to community engagement with key influencers of care-experienced young people which is collaborative, sustainable, contextualised and immersive.
The briefing will be held online on Thursday 21st January (10:00 – 11:00) using MS Teams, with questions taken towards the end of the session.  Please share with colleagues as appropriate.  (Note that there is also a separate briefing session for a children’s social care audience which you are welcome to share with LA contacts.)


25 January 2021, 16.30-17.40: COVID and young people: behind the headlines

We’ve all seen the headlines about the devastating impact of the COVID-19 crisis on young people, but these headlines only tell half the story. IntoUniversity invites you to a panel event, chaired by Mark Easton, BBC Home Editor, which will provide a deeper insight into the challenges young people have faced over the course of the crisis and the support needed to get them back on track.

Expert panel, from IntoUniversity and the education sector at large, will reflect on their experiences of the pandemic’s impact on young people, the topic of learning recovery and the issues surrounding it, and how IntoUniversity is supporting students to recover. The event will be an opportunity to gain valuable insights into the challenges young people are facing and what can be done to help.

Panel speakers: Mark Easton (Chair), Home Editor, BBC; Natasha Barley, Director, Hull and East Yorkshire Children’s University; Mouhssin Ismail, Principal, Newham Collegiate Sixth Form; Eilis O’Donnell, Regional Cluster Manager for the South West and Head of Learning Recovery, IntoUniversity; Kristiyana Uzunova, IntoUniversity, Student.

Book here.


26 January 2021, (starting date): ‘Race Equality in Higher Education Development programme’, conferences and events 2020–21Advance HE Development programme designed to support the improvement of the representation, progression and success of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff and students within higher education. A number of workshops and conferences.


27 January 2021, 14.00: Supporting learners with experience of children’s social care in higher education

TASO seminar for the launch of their new evidence review.

Speakers: TASO’s Director Omar Khan, and Deputy Director Eeliza Kosman; Neil Harrison, Deputy Director of the Rees Centre at the University of Oxford, Senior Researcher and Associate Professor; Michael Sanders, Chief Executive of What Works for Children’s Social Care


27 Jan 2021: Degree apprenticeships 2021 conference, Universities UK and UUKADA

Now in its sixth year, this one-day, online conference will give you a chance to listen to and engage with the current challenges and opportunities surrounding degree apprenticeships. The day will be an opportunity to gain a full understanding of degree apprenticeship policy developments and best practice to help you make the most of the opportunities available to you.

But the sector is facing unprecedented challenges, as is the UK economy. In this environment, how can we build momentum to make sure that degree apprenticeships remain on the agenda? What is the impact of T-Levels on higher education? And how can we build new networks and ways of working that can adapt to the ever-changing landscape caused by Covid-19?

The conference will cover topics such as:

  • Supporting the development of the digital workforce through degree apprenticeships
  • T-Levels: where are we now?
  • Getting hands-on with degree apprenticeships
  • Address from the UUK degree apprenticeship policy leads.


28 January 2021: Rethinking STEM Higher Education, STEM Conference 2021

This year’s Advance HE STEM virtual onference will provide an opportunity to reflect on what we have learnt from the COVID-19 crisis to ensure that our approaches to STEM education are more resilient, effective and inclusive and to identify the new opportunities that have arisen from the pandemic. The conference highlights cutting-edge pedagogies, innovations and research taking place across the STEM sector through a variety of peer led sessions. Respected keynotes provide insightful speeches to stimulate discussion on key issues facing the STEM community. The conference is the ideal opportunity to collaborate and learn from other HE STEM professionals, consider the benefits of cross-disciplinary projects, build networks and share best practice.


4 February 2021, morning: Next steps for improving student mental health – support frameworks, best practice, and learning from the impact of the pandemic, Westminster Higher Education Forum policy conference

The conference will cover:

  • Social distancing
  • Innovation in support
  • Supporting specific student groups
  • Forward planning and reviewing provision
  • Use of technology in supporting student mental health: case studies from Dr Laura Biggart, Lecturer in Social Science Research and Dr Kamena Henshaw, Associate Professor in Psychology, School of Psychology, University of East Anglia
  • Next steps for the frameworks to support student mental health with a keynote contribution from Rosie Tressler, Chief Executive Officer, Student Minds

Speakers include:

Amy Norton, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Office for Students; Rosie Tressler, Chief Executive Officer, Student Minds; Dr Jason Arday, Durham University; Megan Ball, Winchester Student Union; Dr Laura Biggart, University of East Anglia; Harry Bliss, UniHeads; Dr Paul Gorczynski, University of Portsmouth; Dr Kamena Henshaw, University of East Anglia; Yunyan Li, UKCISA; Kate Lister, The Open University; Alice Ludgate, University of Plymouth; Ian Munton, Staffordshire University; Graham Pilpott, University of Reading; James Smythe, The Sheffield College; and Professor Ian Tucker, University of East London. To book.


10 February 2021: ‘Challenging privilege and the ‘danger of the single story’, EDI Workshop Series, Advance HE

This workshop aims to deepen understanding of the barriers to equality, diversity and inclusion that exist in higher education through an examination of how majority group privilege reinforces structural and cultural inequalities. We will critically reflect on a range of scholarship (including but not limited to Robin DiAngelo’s ‘White Privilege’, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘single story’; Patricia Hill Collins discussion of ‘standpoint’; and Kimberlé Crenshaw on intersectionality’) as a means of exploring the limitations on our understanding of difference and commonality. Participants will explore how privilege operates, the impact on different protected groups, and unpick common ‘stories’ about equality in Higher Education. Importantly, participants will leave having had the space to reflect on their own privilege and with practical steps to tackle inequality.


17 and 23 February & 2 March 2021: ‘Leading Race Equality in HE’, EDI Workshop Series, Advance HE

This course has been designed to support individuals who are leading race equality work in their institutions to strengthen their understanding of race equality and develop the skills for effective culture change.  It introduces participants to key concepts within the field of race equality with the aim of improving knowledge and understanding about race and racism within a safe and reflective space.


24 Feb 2021: Fair admissions conference, Universities UK

To support the sector in building greater levels of transparency, trust, and public understanding in admissions practices, in November 2020 Universities UK launched its Fair Admissions Review recommendations. Carried out by school, college, university and UCAS leaders, it recommends that the 2004 Schwartz principles on fair university admissions should be updated to make it clear that the best interests of students must always be paramount.

This one-day, online conference will explore the Fair Admissions Review, as well as its recommendations, in-depth. It will be the perfect opportunity for university staff to gain a deeper understanding of the recommendations, as well as provide their own thoughts, and discuss what lies ahead for the sector.

This event will look at: unconditional offers and ‘conditional unconditional offers’: publicly available, better, and more consistent, information on contextual admissions; a move to post-qualification admissions, it’s challenges and implications for universities, colleges, and schools.


24 February 2021, morning: ‘Improving provision for care leavers – education, employment and wellbeing, key policy commitments, and support through the pandemic and into the future’, Westminster Education Forum policy conference

The key areas for discussion are: experience of COVID-19 amongst care leavers and ensuring support moving forward; the Care Leavers Covenant and the future role of the Social Value Toolkit; the implementation of local offers by local authorities; and supporting care leavers into employment and higher education post-pandemic.

Improving provision for care leavers – key policy priorities

  • The experience of supporting care leavers through COVID-19 and lessons learned – maintaining contact, access to technology, the impact of emergency legislation, and future prospects
  • Implementing key measures for supporting young people leaving care
  • What next for the Care Leaver Covenant?
  • Social Value Toolkit – developing a ‘whole-council approach’ to secure the core outcomes of the Care Leavers Covenant
  • Implementing local offers and developing effective multi-agency partnerships
  • Providing effective and relevant careers advice for those leaving care
  • Improving outcomes for care leavers – transition to further and higher education, entering the job market post-COVID-19, and ensuring support until 25
  • Inspecting the standard of support for care leavers

The conference speakers include:
Mark Riddell, National Implementation Advisor for Care Leavers, Department for Education; Matthew Brazier, Specialist Advisor for Looked After Children, Ofsted; Matthew Gordon, Chief Executive Officer, Spectra First; Rebecca Rees, Procurement Partner, Trowers & Hamlins LLP and Co-Author, HACT Social Value Toolkit; Beaulah Chizimba, West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group and Ipswich & East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group; Penny Earney, NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group; Cllr Jemima Laing, Plymouth City Council; Amber Orsborn-Smith, Nacro; Claire Preston, ENGIE; Maria Tottle, University of Bristol; and a senior speaker confirmed from the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers. To book.


25 February 2021: NEON Access Academy Training session, ‘Working with parents to widen access to higher education’

This online course will:

  • Help participants to appreciate the impact of parents and carers in future career choices
    Investigate how an individual’s own educational experience may impact upon the information, advice and guidance (IAG) that they impart
  • Draw on the experiences of participants to consider and understand the challenges in effectively engaging parents/carers in widening participation activities
  • Critically evaluate a number of strategies for parental/carer engagement and develop an understanding of the types of activities that could work best in their own institution
  • Devise a series of activities to be delivered within their own institution, organisation or Uni Connect.


10-11 March 2021
: Tackling violence, harassment and hate incidents 2021,

Universities UK

Universities UK is committed to tackling all forms of harassment at universities. This annual, highly-regarded national conference will explore recent developments and progress over the past year. Following UUK’s recent ‘UUK recommendations: tackling racial harassment in higher education’, it is the perfect chance to hear from sector-leading experts, as well as those with lived experience of violence, harassment and hate incidents. Topics we will be covering include: Sexual harassment, Racial harassment, Staff-to-student misconduct, Domestic abuse, Data sharing, Faith-based harassment, Intersectionality, Reporting.

This conference will be held online over the course of two days. Alongside eight hours of informative, timely content from the most pertinent speakers on the topic, we will also be providing a wide range of opportunities to network, discuss, and make connections with colleagues within the sector.


10-11 March 2020: The Association of Colleges) AoC Higher Education Online Annual Conference

The AoC Higher Education Online Annual Conference has just been launched. Having attended previous one I can concur with the comment of an attender at a previous AoC annual HE conference “I consider this event to be the unmissable HE in FE event of the year. Prestigious speakers from key areas are always in attendance and having access to them is invaluable”
More information will be provided as it is available.


15-18 March 2021: The Open University’s 6th Biennial International Conference on Access, Participation and Success,
Postponed April 2020 Conference delighted to be able to offer online attendance at the conference at no charge for all delegates, with a different theme for each day:

  • 15 March – Race and Ethnicity
  • 16 March – Carer, Care Experienced and Estranged Students
  • 17 March – Disability and Mental Health
  • 18 March – Mature and Adult Learners

Workshops, lightening talks and poster presenters are invited  particularly on activities and initiatives underway or completed that increase participation, aid progression, and reduce awarding gaps for disadvantaged and underrepresented groups of students in both higher and further education and welcome submissions that include students as presenters/co-presenters. Registration for the conference will open on 21 January 2021.


16th March 2021 13:00-14:00: ‘Working Collaboratively with Local Authorities’, NNECL 2021 Webinar Series

This webinar will present and discuss approaches to collaborative working between HE/ FE providers and local authorities. It will explore the relevant local authority functions, including virtual schools, leaving care teams and residential care, and consider these within policy context; it will share good practise in terms of examples of positive working relationships and effective projects, and share research around the support HEI’s could offer key influencers in a summary of the Supporting the Supporters project.

This webinar is free to NNECL members, small charge of £15.00 for non-members. The National Network for the Education of Care Leavers is a registered charity, which was established in June 2013 by higher education institutions and national organisations committed to the progression and support of Care Leavers in higher education.


16-18 March 2021: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Conference 2021, Advance HE conference

Courageous conversations and adventurous approaches: Creative thinking in tackling inequality. This conference will bring together the annual Advance HE EDI conference with the biannual Scottish conference with the theme – Courageous conversations and adventurous approaches: creative thinking in tackling inequality.

The theme of this conference speaks to the reality of EDI work in both HE and FE – a growing focus for attention internally and externally, ambitious, analytical, forward-looking, practical and increasingly complex. As EDI becomes more embedded in institutional values and strategy and becomes more of a measure for the student experience, institutional interest in creative responses to tackling inequality is growing.

Whether focusing on newly emerging issues or dealing with those that are stubbornly persistent, as a sector we can seek inspiration, insight and guidance to navigate the EDI landscape through sharing learning and advancing evidence-based good practice. Learning from both inside and outside the HE/FE sector can stimulate new ideas and innovative approaches to tackling systemic inequalities.

With institutions taking increasingly intersectional approaches to equality work, aspects of inequality once hidden and silenced are emerging in colleges and universities. Once considered taboo, issues such as gender-based violence, decolonisation, the menopause, and privilege, are now emerging areas of discussion and innovation. Creating space for once unspeakable conversations will increase capacity in the sector to examine the experiences of people who may be left behind in traditional approaches to equality and address emerging practical challenges. By linking policy and practice, this conference can facilitate a refreshed perspective to support the sector’s ambitious equality aims.


17 and 18 March 2021: the rescheduled APS 6th International Biennial Conference, the Hilton Hotel in Milton Keynes

Due to the Covid-19 lockdown, the OU has rescheduled their APS (Access, Participation , Success) 6th International Biennial Conference which was due to take place from 22 to 23 April 2020 to take place on 17/18 March 2021 at the same venue, Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Milton Keynes.

The planned keynote speakers and the majority of presenters will be speaking at the rescheduled conference – please see website here for full details.  The agreed keynote speakers as below plus hopefully OU Vice Chancellor, Professor Tim Blackman.

  • Professor Sir Peter Scott – Commissioner for Fair Access in Scotland
  • ​Chris Millward – Director of Fair Access and Participation, Office for Students (OfS)
  • Nick Hillman – Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI)
  • ​Victoria Winkler – Director, Bevan Foundation
  • ​Dr Liz Marr – PVC-Students, The Open University
  • ​Dr John Butcher – Director, Access, Open and Cross-curricula Innovation, The Open University.


19 March 2021: The future for apprenticeships in England – growing participation and improving diversity, Westminster Employment Forum policy conference

This conference focuses on participation and diversity in apprenticeships in England, the way forward for apprenticeships in the wake of the pandemic, and how they can contribute to wider economic recovery.

Speakers: Louise Wright, Deputy Director for Apprentices, Department for Education; Jeremy Crook, Black Training and Enterprise Group; Peter Dickinson, University of Warwick; Jane Hickie, Association of Employment and Learning Providers; Nic Hutchins, Greater Manchester Combined Authority; Kirsti Lord, Association of Colleges; and Cindy Rampersaud, Pearson

Areas for discussion at the conference include:

  • the impact of the pandemic
  • government measures and support
  • overall effectiveness of recent measures
  • young apprentices from disadvantaged groups:
  • impact and next steps
  • economic recovery and the role of apprenticeships
  • public confidence in the apprenticeship brand.

Book here.


30 – 31 March 2021: UKAT Annual Conference 2021, online, Swansea University, Swansea, Wales

UKAT’s theme for 2020/21 is a focus on equality, diversity and inclusion in higher education. This conference focuses on developing students as independent self-regulating learners. It will explore how personal tutoring enables the addressing of disparities in engagement, progression and degree outcomes by students from groups underrepresented in HE and/or with protected characteristics. Additionally, it will look at how personal tutoring can combine with peer learning, academic study skills development, and mentoring and coaching to enhance student success academically and professionally.


21 April 2021, morning: ‘Reforming Higher Technical Education’, Westminster Higher Education Forum policy conference

The conference takes place amidst considerable changes in the policy landscape surrounding technical education in England and increased focus on improving the quality of its provision to meet the skills needed by British industry, the labour market and economy.

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who have already booked to attend from DCMS; the Geospatial Commission; the Valuation Office Agency and the Welsh Government.

The conference will cover:

  • delivery – priorities for improvement in higher technical education
  • standards – how they can be regulated and maintained for the new qualifications
  • uptake and engagement – how the profile of the qualifications can be raised amongst prospective students and best serve the needs of employers
  • contributing to employment and the economy – the focus for closing technical skills gaps and contributing to post-pandemic economic recovery.

Speakers include: Senior speaker confirmed from the Department for Education; Claire Gill, Associate Director, Strategic Relationships, Vocational and Technical Qualifications, Ofqual; Ana Osbourne, Deputy Director, Technical Education, Occupations & Qualifications, Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education; Dr Anthony Mann, Head, VET and Adult Learning Team, OECD; Philip Wilson, Partner, York Consulting; Shane Chowen, Association of Colleges; Mike Clancy, Prospect Union; Patrick Craven, City and Guilds; Alissa Dhaliwal, Confederation of British Industry; Emily Jones, Learning and Work Institute; Clare Riley, Microsoft UK; and Mark Smith, Ada. National College for Digital Skills. Book here.


26 May 2021: Leading Student Engagement in Times of Crisis and Transformation

This new Advance HE conference focused on student engagement will consider leadership of student engagement through a 360 degree lens including the role of all staff, the Student Union, and the community and considering how we ensure inclusive engagement and remove all inequalities. Join the conference to hear from leaders, staff and students and discover what Student Engagement means for your institution. Ideal for: those with responsibility for the student academic experience and student engagement more widely, SU teams wishing to widen their student engagement, course leaders seeking to have a more engaged cohort and others focused on the student experience and improving student outcomes.


1-3 September 2021: deferred NET2020 Conference, University of Bath

The leading annual international conference for networking in healthcare education, the deferred NET2020 will address all areas of healthcare education across all healthcare professions. The conference will focus on the following themes:

•    student experience, engagement and achievement: including the sub-themes of Inclusivity in healthcare education; Widening participation; Student support and wellbeing; and Retention and success in healthcare education.

Educational enhancement: including the sub-themes of Humanising healthcare education; Assessing the impact of pre- and post-registration learning on clinical practice; and Partnership working.
•    learning, teaching and assessment strategies: including the sub-themes of Evidence-based learning, teaching and assessment; Inter-professional learning and working; Education in clinical practice and practice development; and technology enhanced learning.
•    key challenges in healthcare education: including the sub-themes of Global challenges in healthcare education; Developing the future healthcare education workforce; and Social, economic and policy drivers in healthcare education.

Bookings are currently not open but see conference website for further details.