(Session) Play your ‘Widening Access’ cards right

Debbie Meharg, Stephanie Craighill and Kevin Chalmers (School of Computing)

During this fun session the team will share key findings and information on the research data, implications and positive interventions implemented to date as part of the Associate Student project around the theme of Widening Participation.

The highly interactive session based on the concept of ‘Play your cards right’ will highlight key areas on the widening access agenda – performance, academic literacy, retention and increasing participation amongst the 20% most deprived backgrounds (SIMD20). The underlying theme is that of perception and misconception around the widening access agenda.

The School of Computing, Associate Student Project (ASP) team have taken on the ambitious target of increasing articulation into the school and widening participation with a key knowledge and understanding of the implications for students and a specific focus on those from the 20% most deprived backgrounds (SIMD20).

The ASP team have developed a series of key interventions with college students and staff, expanding their knowledge and aspiration to succeed at University. These student focused, targeted learning opportunities are designed to enhance student progression and attainment by creating opportunities for students to develop their confidence and academic skills which will help them to succeed in the very different HE environment.

Widening participation in higher education continues to be a key concern for Scottish government and the 2013 Post-16 Education (Scotland) Act places obligations upon Universities to achieve progress in this regard. In 2013, in order to foster growth in articulation activity, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) introduced funding and set ambitious targets for universities to support additional places for students to progress from college to university with no loss of time, by way of ‘guaranteed articulation’ (Scottish Funding Council, 2013).

The ASP has been informed by transition studies in the literature, theoretical perspectives, focus group findings and partnership meetings with key staff members, and informal communication with staff and students. The team have addressed the practical concerns and preconceptions amongst staff and students associated with making the transition from college to university.

Findings to date indicated that interventions must be co-ordinated, academically appropriate, subject specific and most significantly have buy-in from college partners’ staff and students.

Theoretical underpinning
Christie, H., Barron, P. & D’Annunzio-Green, N. (2013). Direct entrants in transition: becoming independent learners, Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 38 (4), pp623-637.

NUS Scotland. (2014). ‘Unlocking Scotland’s Potential: Promoting Fairer Access to Higher Education’

Scottish Government (a) (2012). Post-16 transitions, Policy and practice framework: Supporting all young people to participate in post-16 learning, training or work.

Scottish Funding Council (2013). Guidance: Additional articulation places scheme for partnership between colleges and universities.

Universities Scotland (2013). Access All Areas

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