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


  WP Events for your diaries

                                                      CALENDAR OF EVENTS


Advance notice

25 and 26 November 2020: 10th Access to Higher Education and Student Success Summit, Woburn Conference Centre, London

Delivered in partnership with Universities UK, our 2020 virtual Summit explores and explains the critical issues related to access and participation in higher education, keeping access and student success remain high on the agenda. Delegates will get up-to-date briefings on the current issues, policy and regulation, together with opportunities to develop practice solutions to access and participation issues through discussion with experts and colleagues. The Summit programme will seek to analyse how impacts of the global coronavirus pandemic may be eroding the progress of widening participation, and can be used to improve work and support to disadvantaged and under-represented students. See below.


1–4 September 2020: Festival of Effective Advising and Tutoring, UKAT

Transformed from the 2-day physical conference into an online 4-day Festival of Effective Advising and Tutoring all the sessions and activities that were scheduled to take place at the conference will now occur virtually during this Festival. The United Kingdom Advising and Tutoring Association (UKAT)  has refocused the theme to concentrate on activities designed to prepare advisors and tutors to effectively support their students remotely when the new academic year begins. Additional interactive workshops, presentations, and social activities will make this virtual Festival of Effective Advising and Tutoring a bigger, brighter, and more exciting event than the conference originally planned – and you can enjoy it from the comfort of your own home, with gaps in the schedule to avoid ‘Zoom overload’, and all of the sessions will be recorded and made exclusively available to delegates after the event.

(Existing 2-day Conference registration remains valid for this 4-day Festival, so make sure you save the revised dates in your diary. We are currently updating the website and our publicity materials to reflect the action-packed schedule we have planned for you. Please watch out for more updates in the near future.)


3 September 2020, 2.00pm: Personal Academic Tutoring and Student Services. Never the twain shall meet or perfectly entwined? UKAT – AMOSSHE Joint Webinar

The webinar will be held at 2pm on Thursday 3 September as part of the UKAT Festival of Effective Advising and Tutoring but it is free for anyone to attend. The webinar will take the form of a panel discussion with UKAT and AMOSSHE professionals discussing their experiences of the interface between personal academic tutoring and student support services. This important relationship is often either taken for granted or not properly considered. The webinar aims to stimulate thoughts and reflection on how it currently works in your institution and how it could be improved. The panel will also answer questions from the audience. Panel members:

  • Professor Michael Draper, Director Swansea Academy for Inclusivity and Learner Success, Swansea University
  • Melissa Jacobi, Head of Academic Advising, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Sarah Smart, Student Transition and Welfare Manager, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Simon Lightfoot, Pro-Dean for Student Education in the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Leeds
  • Nic Streatfield, Head of Student Support & Wellbeing, University of East London

8-10 September 2020: NET2020 Conference, University of Bath

This conference is still currently planned to take place on the date shown

The leading annual international conference for networking in healthcare education, NET2020 addresses all areas of healthcare education across all healthcare professions. This year 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.


10 September 2020, 8.30 am to 12.55: Autism and learning disabilities care in England – delivering services, supporting parents, carers and individuals and next steps for policy, Westminster Health Forum policy conference

This half day online conference covers the NHS long term plan and strategy; issues of awareness, support and engagement; the Autism Core Capabilities Framework; how to integrate health and education policies;

Speakers include: David Nuttall, Deputy Director, Dementia and Disabilities, Department for Health and Social Care; Justin Cooke, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Ambitious about Autism; Yvonne Newbold, Member, NHS Assembly; Winner, National Learning Disabilities and Autism Lifetime Achievement Award, 2018 and Author, The Special Parent’s Handbook; Dr Ashok Roy, Consultant Psychiatrist, Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust and Clinical Advisor, Health Education England; Dr Ian Male, Mid Sussex Child Development Centre and Councillor Ashley Pearce, Reading Borough Council.

To book.


10 and 11 September 2020: Institutional Research: Strengthening HE Futures, HEIR annual conference 2020, Brighton

The Higher Education Institutional Research (HEIR) Network 2020 annual conference, hosted by the University of Brighton, is an opportunity for HE institutional research enthusiasts and practitioners to come together as a community to exchange knowledge, information and ideas. The focus is on current challenges and opportunities, in order to enhance the use of institutional research, data analysis and evaluation, in supporting efficient and effective HEI decision-making, planning and policy formation. The date and format of the conference is under review.

For HEIR 2020, the conference focuses on three key strands which highlight the many ways in which institutional research, evaluation and data analysis increasingly play a pivotal role in supporting institutional effectiveness and helping support and strengthen HE futures:

  • enhancing learning lives
  • enriching Data stories
  • influencing policy.


15 September 2020 (New date): Employability Symposium: Breaking the mould, face to face event, York

The Employability Symposium has been moved from 22 April to 15 September 2020. This is planned to be delivered as a face to face event, however this will be subject to government guidelines nearer the time.

The symposium will aim to promote and explore good practice where employability is part of the curriculum, bringing together cutting-edge examples of how sustainable and innovative approaches to employability can be delivered at school, faculty, college and institutional levels.


15 September 2020: The Care Leavers Event 2020: Breaking down barriers and fulfilling potential Through effective services, Government Events, London

No detailed information available other than the programme.


16 September 2020: Higher Education Sustainability Forum, Central London

The HE Sustainability Forum will provide the opportunity to discuss the future of sustainable development within the higher education sector. This Inside Government event will explore how universities can develop strategies and policies in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals to create sustainable campuses through their leadership, students, research, estates, and partnerships. Delegates will hear from policy experts and leading universities on how to create sustainable institutions fit for the future.

Key Speakers Confirmed: Professor Janet Haddock-Fraser, Professor of Sustainability and Leadership, Manchester Metropolitan University, Chair of Trustees, EAUC; Jamie Agombar, Executive Director, Students Organising for Sustainability (SoS); Representative, National Union of Students (NUS); Professor Joy Carter, Vice-Chancellor, University of Winchester and GuildHE Representative, The Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education Leaders; Joseph Alcamo, Director, Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP), University of Sussex; Claire Roxburgh, Energy and Environmental Manager, University of the West of Scotland; Dr Tammi Sinha, Director, Climate Action Centre, University of Winchester; Charmaine Morrell, Sustainable Development Manager, Nottingham Trent University.


16 -17 September 2020, 8.00 and 14.00: EPALE discussion: Basic skills learning provision

This online discussion will take place on this page on 16-17 September between 10:00 and 16:00 () CET and will be moderated by EPALE (the electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe) Thematic Coordinators of EBSN Graciela Sbertoli (Secretary General of EBSN) and Tamás Harangozó.

The discussion will include the following topics:

  • critical literacy
  • health literacy
  • financial literacy
  • numeracy
  • basic digital skills for the future.

Comments will be open on 7 September so participants can introduce themselves or post their comments in advance.


25 September 2020, 10.00-15.30: ‘Unlocking Lockdown: Practical Approaches to moving University Outreach forwards’, Study Higher Annual Access Conference

The virtual annual conference coincides with the beginning of the new academic year and is an opportunity to re-invigorate and focus on how to deliver effective outreach in the changing landscape. As lockdown descended many people rushed to move their outreach offering online. Now, with some experience and evaluation behind us, is the time to reflect and consider
•    What lessons have we learnt?
•    How will outreach develop over the next 2 years?

Speakers at the conference will share their views on the strategic factors we need to address ahead include:
Chris Millward - Director for Fair Access and Participation of the OfS.
Anne-Marie Canning, CEO of the Brilliant Club
Mary Curnock Cook, former Chief Executive of UCAS, trustee of Founders4Schools and United Learning as well as a council member at the Open University and Youth Think Tank,
Annette Hayton,Convener of NERUPI, University of Bath.
During the workstream sessions there will be a choice of talks where outreach practitioners from across the country will share useful and practical insights and ideas to tackle barriers to HE entry in the new, post-Covid era. (All materials presented and more will also be shared in our Resource Bank for access beyond the conference – a great way to share best practice and ideas.)


8 October 2020, morning: ‘Skills and apprenticeships in Northern Ireland’, PFfNI policy conference, Morning, Thursday,

This conference takes place in the context of the ongoing development of a new skills strategy for Northern Ireland, to replace the existing strategy which concludes in 2020. Areas for discussion include:

  • key priorities for the new skills strategy
  • immigration policy and the impact of Brexit
  • meeting the future skills needs of the Northern Ireland economy
  • the particular role of apprenticeships in helping meet NI’s skills needs
  • what can be learned and taken forward from the way that providers have adapted to the delivery of skills and training
  • any extra support that might be needed to accommodate the impact on stakeholders in light of the economic fallout of the crisis, and changes to skills demands and the working environment

Speakers include, Graeme Wilkinson, Director of Skills and Jim Wilkinson, Director of Youth Policy  Andrew Bell, Head, National Skills Strategy Projects, OECD, and Gareth Hetherington, Director, Ulster University Economic Policy Centre, and from Allstate Northern Ireland, Atkins Global, Belfast Metropolitan College, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, CITB NI, Farrans, FDQ, KPMG Ireland, North West Regional College, Transport Training Services and Workplus. The chairs are Dr Caoimhe Archibald MLA, Chair, Committee for the Economy; and Mike Nesbitt MLA, Secretary, All Party Group on Children and Young People. To book.


21 October 2020: ‘Widening Participation 2020: Ensuring Access and Opportunity for all’, Government Events, London

No detailed information available other than the programme.


27-30, October 2020: ‘Improving Social Engagement Through Adult Education’, 69th Annual AAACE Conference, Reno, Nevada

The conference seeks answers to several questions. What is important for adult educators to “do” in the various adult education contexts, such communities of practice, the workplace, academia, and social media, that creates opportunities for improved discourse? How can those lessons be transferred into the community? How can adult education theories and practices be harnessed into a guiding force for constructive dialogue and mutual respect? How can adult education give a voice to the voiceless who have ceased engaging in discourse for fear of marginalization?
This annual conference includes the following:

Commission on International Adult Education Pre-Conference (CIAE, October 26-27)

Commission on Distance Learning and Technology Pre-Conference Symposium on Social Media (CDLT, October 27)

Commission of Professors of Adult Education Co-Conference (CPAE, October 29).

(The American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE) is dedicated to the belief that lifelong learning contributes to human fulfilment and positive social change. To that end, we provide leadership for the field of adult and continuing education by expanding opportunities for adult growth and development; unifying adult educators; fostering the development and dissemination of theory, research, information, and best practices; promoting identity and standards for the profession; and advocating relevant public policy and social change initiatives.)


4 November 2020: Lifelong Learning: Raising standards of adult education, Inside Government, central London

COVID-19 has left 8.4 million people on furlough in the UK and with the threat of a recession looming, it is vital that investment is made in adult learning to upskill individuals and mitigate the number of people left unemployed.

This event will offer key insights into how you can develop effective training programmes and create a multi-skilled workforce in line with a changing labour market. Discussion will also be had on how to access funding, whilst learning how to improve adult learning opportunities for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Speakers include: DfE, Social Mobility Commission, Education and Training Foundation, the OU, CBI, Learning and Work Institute.


5 November 2020: Improving student retention 2020 conference, Universities UK, central London

A one-day event dedicated to bringing together experts and policymakers to help guide the sector in finding practical solutions to immediate problems, as well as scan the horizon for challenges ahead. Aimed at assessing and evaluating student retention interventions this conference includes using data and analytics to devise appropriate interventions that can drive culture change; case studies of how universities are being proactive in ensuring that their most disadvantaged students don’t drop out; a spotlight on race: accessing and creating a first-rate blended experience; building engagement and a sense of belonging.


5-6 November 2020: 2nd International conference on the Mentally Health and Well-being of Postgraduate Researchers, University of Brighton

As a sector we are awake to the complexities of mental health & wellbeing and the interrelation of staff and researcher wellbeing. In 2019 PhD candidates reported concerns about anxiety at a significantly higher level than undergraduates. While another study two years later found over a third of respondents had sought help for anxiety or depression related to their PhD. Another study has found that supervising PGRs with mental health problems has a huge impact on a supervisors’ own psychological wellbeing.

This UKCGE International conference explores the latest developments in research and effective practices to support the mental health & wellbeing of postgraduate researchers and university staff. It’s clear that if we want to create mentally healthy postgraduate research communities, we must tackle the issue of poor research cultures. To do this, we must prioritise the mental health & wellbeing of both staff and postgraduate researchers.


18 November 2020: Women in STEM conference, central London

Delegates will hear the latest policy updates and key insights from leading experts about supporting improved uptake of girls and women entering STEM education, industry and careers. STEM conference sessions will focus on strategies for enhancing diversity in STEM, supporting pipeline progression and creating a gender balanced workforce:

  • Discover strategies and steps that need to be taken to ensure gender equality, diversity and parity in STEM
  • Explore the role of women in emerging technologies and AI and how to ensure their progression within the industry
  • Share solutions and strategies for tackling the challenges of recruitment and retention of women within senior roles and positions in STEM
  • Support more girls and women to become mentors and STEM ambassadors to help support the progression of women through the pipeline.


25-26 November 2020: THE Live 2020

At THE Live 2020, after a year of immense challenge and change, we hope to bring together the UK’s university leaders, decision-makers in government, NGOs and the wider higher education community to connect, share ideas and make plans to support the sector’s strategic development.

This year’s THE Live, will discuss the most pressing issues facing UK universities:

  • Britain’s place in the global higher education system
  • the state of the UK HE market
  • financial challenges facing the sector
  • how to improve your workplace culture for staff and early-career researchers.

This year’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Symposium will also be happening at THE Live.


25 and 26 November 2020: 10th Access to Higher Education and Student Success Summit, Woburn Conference Centre, London

Now entering its 10th year, the annual Access to Higher Education and Student Success Summit 2020, delivered in partnership between Action on Access and Universities UK will be held virtually this year, with networking and discussion sessions built into the programme. We will focus delegates on the critical issues related to access and participation in higher education and give delegates up-to-date briefings on the current issues, policy and regulation, together with opportunities to develop practice solutions to access and participation issues through discussion with experts and colleagues.

This year we will cover: the impact of Covid-19 on all WP including care-experienced and estranged students, the BAME attainment gap, supporting students learning from home, graduating into a post-Covid-19 world. Delegates last year said,

“Fast paced, short, sharp talks from a wide variety of speakers. Lots of like-minded people sharing best practices and common challenges. Excellent event!”

“This is always a chance to hear directly from professionals about the best practice at a national scale”

“Really useful event that has left me with much to think about and many new contacts”

Speakers so far confirmed: Debra Humphris, Vice-Chancellor, University of Brighton ; Mike Nicholson, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach, and Dr Andrew Ross, Head of Widening Access and Participation, University of Bath; Kate Lister, Manager for Accessibility and Inclusive Practice, The Open University; Paul Wakeling, Head of the Department for Education, University of York; Catharine Sacks-Jones, Chief Executive, Become ; Susan Mueller, Project Director, Stand Alone; Amie Waterman, PhD student, Durham University; Jess Woodsford, Director of SEER (Specialist Evidence, Evaluation & Research), Applied Inspiration; Ross Renton, Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of Worcester and Chair of the Widening Participation Network, GuildHE; Rebecca Bowen, Senior Student Recruitment Officer, University of South Wales, and Wales Chair, HELOA; Dr Kay Hack, Principal Adviser Learning and Teaching, Advance HE; Amy Low, Service Delivery Director, AbilityNet; Lindsey Fraser, Deputy Director in the Lifelong Learning Centre, University of Leeds; Gurnam Singh, Associate Professor of Attainment, Coventry University.

The annual Access to Higher Education and Student Success Summit will, as always, be unmissable. Don’t miss it, don’t even just put the date in your dairies. Book Now.


1 December 2020, morning: ‘The next steps for improving social mobility and raising educational attainment in England in the wake of COVID-19, Westminster Education Forum’

Key areas for discussion in this online forum are:

Social mobility in England – the current state of play and future priorities

The impact of COVID-19 on educational attainment, and priorities for recovery – tackling disadvantage in early years, student engagement in lockdown, regional inequalities, and support for teachers

The National Tutoring Programme – progress so far

An international perspective on social mobility

Raising social mobility in the wake of COVID-19 – post-16 case-studies in routes to employment:

Improving social mobility following the pandemic – policy priorities.

Speakers include:

Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Universities, Department for Education; Professor Becky Francis, Chief Executive Officer, Education Endowment; senior speaker confirmed from the Social Mobility Commission; Nick Bent, The Tutor Trust; John Craven, upReach; Ryan Gibson, Academies Enterprise Trust; Dr Peter Holding, Beechview Academy and Marlow Education Trust; Professor Stephen Machin, LSE; Isa Mutlib, BAME Apprenticeship Alliance; Dr Julie Nelson, National Foundation for Educational Research; Russ Shaw, Tech London Advocates; and Sammy Wright, Southmoor Academy.

To book.


8 December 2020: ‘Improving provision for children in care in Scotland – next steps following the Independent Care Review’, Scotland Policy Conferences keynote seminar

This conference will examine:

  • The Independent Care Review – key findings and establishing The Promise – with Fiona Duncan, Chair, The Promise Oversight BoardChair, The Independent Care Review
  • Reviewing the current standard of care provision and next steps in developing a holistic approach – with Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Adviser, The Scottish Government
  • Improving the care experience for children – the support scaffolding, workforce development, and securing better outcomes
  • Building a system that listens to the needs of children – with Tam Baillie, Chair, A Way Home Scotland Coalition
  • Reforming the care system – building children’s voices into decision making, supporting a positive environment for young people to live in, and improving support for families and carers
  • The future vision for the care system – with Maree Todd MSP, Minister for Children and Young People, The Scottish Government.

Speakers include:

Maree Todd MSP, Minister for Children and Young People, The Scottish Government; Fiona Duncan, Chair, The Promise Oversight Board; Chair, The Independent Care Review and Chief Executive Officer, The Corra Foundation; Tam Baillie, Chair, A Way Home Scotland Coalition and Children and Young People Commissioner for Scotland 2009-2017; Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Adviser, The Scottish Government; Claire Burns, Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection; Martin Crewe, Barnardos Scotland; John Docherty, Largs Academy; Lorraine Gray, Scottish Social Services Council; Elaine Hamilton, Nether Johnstone House Childcare Services and Dr Helen Whincup, University of Stirling.

To book.


24 February 2020, 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.


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