NEON Summer Symposium


Thursday 21st & Friday 22nd June 2018
University of Sussex

The sixth annual NEON Summer Symposium was attended by 220 delegates from across the country over the two days of the conference in University of Sussex – making it the most well-attended to date.

Please click here for the programme from the event.

The theme was be “Widening Access – Who Cares?” – it examined the priority placed on widening access by different stakeholders. To what extent is widening access on the agendas of policymakers, schools, colleges, the academic community, employers and students. How is it being addressed and in what ways can the commitment to widening access across the board be strengthened.

During the two days, delegates and speakers discussed the importance of partnership working in order to both widen access to higher education (HE) and to support students from under-represented groups through HE into employment. We heard from key figures from the education sector talking about why widening access matters and discussed the challenges of obtaining the commitment, from all parties, to acknowledge the importance of ensuring we have a diverse student body.

The NEON Summer Symposium offered 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.

Keynote speaker included:

  • Gordon Marsden MP, Shadow Minister of HE, FE & Skills
  • Professor Adam Tickell, Vice Chancellor, University of Sussex
  • Sarah Howls, Head of Access & Participation Funding and Programmes, Office for Students
  • Ilyas Nagdee, National Union of Students
  • Kirsti Lord, Deputy Chief Executive, Association of Colleges
  • Katie Adams, National Senior Programme Manager — Widening Participation, Health Education England
  • Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive, Institute of Student Employers
  • Jayne Aldridge, Director for the Student Experience, University of Sussex
  • Dr Graeme Atherton, Director, NEON & Head, AccessHE


Feedback from NEON Summer Symposium

‘great chance to meeting new people with experience in the sector and exchange views’

‘enjoyed discussing all aspects of WP from issues and challenges to share best practice. I left with much food for thought’

‘opportunity to learn about the work taking place nationally. Discuss what does and doesn’t work – knowing you’re not on your own’

‘having time to reflect in an environment where WP is the focus and you can hear what others are doing in the sector’

‘stimulating thoughts about strategic implication’

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

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