NEON Summer Symposium

Widening Access in Higher Education – Are we there yet?

Thursday, 8th & Friday 9th June 2017

Leeds Beckett University

Widening access to higher education has been an imperative for policy makers and higher education providers since the late 1990s. As we approach twenty years of concerted efforts to widen access to HE in England, the 2017 NEON Summer Symposium will look at what progress means and whether it is being made? What have we learnt in the last two decades and crucially, what should the goals for the next decade and beyond look like in the area of access and equity in HE participation?

If you would like to book your place at the 2-day 2017 NEON Summer Symposium, please fill out the form at the bottom of this page.


Please click here to view the draft programme for the 2017 NEON Summer Symposium.

The 2017 NEON Summer Symposium will look at a number of specific issues:

  • Understanding the nature of widening access practice – how do HEIs and others plan and design their portfolios of work and what do these portfolios look like?
  • How are HEIs, schools and others working together to raise attainment and what are the challenges in meeting government policy goals here?
  • What is being done to support greater participation (as well as retention and success) for learners with disabilities?
  • Building vocational pathways – how are degree apprenticeships being taken forward and how are learners on vocational courses experiencing HE and being supported to succeed?
  • The relationship between the TEF, widening access and future targets;
  • Outcomes from the NNCO – what projects were developed? Are they being sustained? What did we learn about building partnerships and supporting learners?
  • The use of data to both shape who is targeted and what is delivered – is practice as data informed and led as it should be?
  • The relationship between outreach, student retention and student success – how are HEIs developing strategic approaches to connecting the student lifecycle?
  • Helping students from widening access backgrounds achieve their potential in HE – inclusive learning and teaching and/or targeting approaches?
  • Connecting access and identity – challenges and innovation in supporting white disadvantaged males/females and those from BAME backgrounds.

Keynote Speakers so far confirmed

David Barrett, Assistant Director, OFFA

Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary University Group & Shadow Minister for Local Government and Housing

Nick Hillman Director, Higher Education Policy Institute

Sarah Howls, Head of Student Opportunity, Hefce

  • Shahid Omer, Head of Widening Participation, Department for Education BIS

Professor Peter Slee, Vice Chancellor, Leeds Beckett University

More speakers will be announced shortly

The NEON Summer Symposium not only offers two days of stimulating keynotes, presentations and discussions. It is also an invaluable opportunity for widening access professionals, careers advisors, student support specialists, policy analysts and academics to engage with each other, discussing best practice and driving forward a social mobility agenda that we are all dedicated to.

Exhibition and Sponsorship Opportunities

Please click here to find out more about exhibition and sponsorship opportunities at the 2017 NEON Summer Symposium.

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NEON is the new professional organisation supporting those involved in widening access to higher education (HE).

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