‘Higher Education participation, levelling up and regional inequality – the future for policy and practice’ conference


  • Date


  • Time

      9:30 am - 4:00 pm

As higher education participation rates continue to rise steadily, the extent of regional differences in higher education amongst those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, are at risk of being ignored. This conference will bring the focus back to these regional and local differences sharing new evidence regarding the extent of these differences, bringing together strategic and practical approaches to addressing them and looking at what needs to be done to ensure they remain at the top of the access and participation agenda.

In 2024 the majority of universities are set to submit new Access and Participation Plans; Uni-Connect partnerships will hear about their long-term future and a general election will happen. At the same time devolution is high on the political agenda. This conference comes before a critical year where the future direction of access and participation for the rest of the decade will be determined. It is a must attend for the NEON community.

Keynote speakers confirmed so far include:

  • John Blake, Director of Fair Access and Participation, Office for Students
  • Professor Chris Husbands, Vice Chancellor, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Professor Nic Beech, Vice Chancellor, University of Salford
  • Professor Graeme Atherton, Director, NEON and Head of the Centre for Inequality and Levelling Up, UWL
  • Lindsey Bowes, Research Director, CfE Research
  • Dr Hannah Merry, Head of Operations, Higher Horizons
  • Gareth Smith, Director of Student Life and Strategy, UA92
  • Tej Nathwani, Principal Researcher (Economist), HESA

The conference will include sessions on:

  • Higher education participation, levelling up, local growth and opportunity.
  • Launch of the new NEON report ‘Universities not for everyone: who is missing out on higher education in England?’. This major new report will show the extent of the gaps in higher education participation amongst those from lower socio-economic backgrounds across England.
  • New evidence on the impact of the Uni-Connect programme and on regional differences in higher education attainment from HESA
  • Uni Connect and the future for regional collaboration in widening access to higher education
  • Innovation, partnership and practice – how to address local and regional differences in access and participation in higher education

Regional differences in opportunity are at the centre of access and participation work and this event will focus on what they are, how to address them and the future for this agenda.

Date: Wednesday 6th December 2023
Time: 09.30am until 4pm (registration from 09.30am to 10am)
Location: UA92, Brian Statham Way, Old Trafford, Stretford, Manchester, M16 0PU
Price: NEON Member – £179 / Non-Member – £259
Places at this event are limited.
If you are unsure if your organisations is a NEON member, please check here.