Action forums recap and update – December 2017

As we come to the end of 2017 and the first term of the academic year, now offers a great opportunity to reflect on the recent meetings and outputs of our action forums and highlight some of the exciting projects developing in 2018. If you’d like to get involved with any of the projects or forums below, please visit our events page to view upcoming January meetings and don’t hesitate to contact Sam Turner, AccessHE London Programmes Coordinator, to find out more.

The Arts and Design forum

The Arts and Design forum is continuing to engage with a range of external organisations supporting widening participation within creative education and careers, such as Arts Emergency and A New Direction, as well as supporting the work of the AccessHE Creative Network and producing the Arts and Design e-newsletter. The forum is currently exploring work around understanding mindsets and shifting the stigma of arts and design courses, and will be sharing best practice in the design and evaluation of raising attainment projects within creative subjects. The January meeting will look to confirm potential forum outputs including a series of alumni creative career case studies and some research around the potential value of super-curricular study in the arts (e.g. through an EPQ).

BAME forum

The BAME forum met back in September and has since been working towards establishing student representation and participation in meetings and its projects. First up for the forum in 2018 is planning an online and social media campaign highlighting personal BAME student experiences. The January meeting will be looking particularly at collaborative outputs to help address student retention and attainment, and we’ll be hearing from Brunel’s Student Success project to learn more about how institutions can adapt to better support specific groups of students.

Care Experienced and Estranged Students forum

The October meeting of the Care Experienced and Estranged Students forum was kindly hosted by Lewisham Council; we were also joined by representatives from five other local authorities to discuss how HEIs can work more effectively with virtual schools. Our January meeting will continue these discussions as well as explore recent research around access to and success in HE for care-experienced students, and help plan the upcoming Life After University event for care-experienced and estranged students currently studying at university.

Disability forum

Our Disability forum has had a busy autumn term, delivering the University Information Day for disabled and dyslexic learners at St Mary’s University, releasing an updated version of its outreach with disabled learners and inclusive practices survey and establishing a forum resources page. In January, the forum will be sharing best practice around supporting students through inclusive models of teaching and learning.

Evidence and Evaluation forum

In November, the Evidence and Evaluation forum were kindly joined by Richard Shiner and Beth Isaac from OFFA who led a discussion around the creation, flow and dissemination of evidence within the sector. The forum doesn’t meet again until March where it will explore and share good practice around the evaluation of pre-entry raising attainment activities, but before then, will also deliver a new member survey around the use and challenges of POLAR and other measures of ‘disadvantage’ in the London context.

Mature and Part-Time Students forum

November also saw the launch of a brand new forum – the Mature and Part-Time Students forum – after members highlighted this as an area of strategic interest given the recent dramatic drop in the numbers of mature and part-time HE students. After a productive first meeting hearing about community outreach activity from colleagues at the University of West London, the forum will confirm themes and outputs for the coming year in February.

Schools’ Strategy forum

Members of the Schools’ Strategy Forum have highlighted a number of key areas which we’ll look to explore in the new year, including the rise of unconditional offers, understanding contextualised admissions and new modes of HE delivery (such as degree apprenticeships). We’re currently thinking about new methods of engaging teachers and school/college staff in our work outside of a traditional forum meeting format – do get in touch if you’d like to be involved in these discussions.

Student Ambassador forum

Finally, the Student Ambassador forum launched the first iteration of a new student ambassador employability resource designed to help ambassadors identify, evidence and articulate the transferable skills they develop as part of their roles. In 2018, the forum will deliver the next Student Ambassador Conference at the University for the Creative Arts, and continue to update the Student Ambassador Handbook and share good practice during meetings.