‘Equitable Access to Higher Education: Making the Global Case’

NEON Global Events

  • Date


  • Location/Venue

      Protea Hotel Breakwater Lodge

  • Time

      9:30 am - 4:30 pm

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Date: 6th May 2016
Time: 9.30am – 4.30pm
Location: Cape Town, South Africa

This event is being convened by the National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) England, in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh and with the support of the University of Cape Town.

UNESCO’s new global goals include a commitment to extending access to affordable tertiary and higher education (HE) for those from all backgrounds by 2030. How are we going to achieve this goal when the evidence shows that inequalities in participation and success in HE transcend the globe and include even the richest nations in the world? The scale of the challenge is so large that advocacy and action on a global level will be necessary. This event will build on the discussions in Going Global about the role of collaboration and international partnership building in international higher education. It will look specifically at some of the challenges in supporting first generation students to succeed in HE in South Africa and the strategies deployed here, before looking at new research which brings together for the first time evidence from across the globe on the extent of inequality in access to HE. We will then discuss how to advocate across national boundaries for widening access to HE, and the potential for a ‘World Access to Higher Education Day’ in 2017.


Chair, Suellen Shay, Dean of Centre for Higher Education Development, University of Cape Town
10.00am‘Access and Success in Higher Education (HE) work in South Africa: Challenges and Opportunities’
Chief Mabizela, Director of Higher Education Policy, Department of Higher Education and Training, South Africa
Dr. Denyse Webbstock, Director: Monitoring and Evaluation, Council on Higher Education, South Africa
11.00amBreak for tea and coffee
11.15am‘What it means to work with first generation/vulnerable Higher Education students’: A case study depicting the key aspects of a successful Education Development Unit (Commerce) UCT and what this might mean on the global stage.
Associate Professor June Pym, Director: Education Development Unit (Commerce), University of Cape Town
12.00pm‘Higher Education and Equity’
Dr. Erik Bloom, Senior Economist, World Bank
12.30pm‘Global Goals: Access to tertiary education’
Carolyn Medel-Anonuevo, Head of Education Unity, UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa
1.40pm‘Drawing the Global Access Map report’
Dr. Graeme Atherton, Director, National Education Opportunities Network (NEON), England
2.00pm‘Equitable Access and Success: How does HE meet the challenge?’
Professor Catalina Arévalo Ferro, Director of External Affairs, National University of Colombia, Colombia
Dr Nan Yeld: British Council, SSA Regional Senior Adviser for Higher Education
Professor Osman Babury, Deputy Minister of Higher Education for Academic Affairs, Afghanistan
3.15pm Break for tea and coffee
3.30pm‘Access to Higher Education in South Africa and the United States – the Work of the Kresge Foundation’ 
William F. L. Moses, Managing Director, Education, Kresge Foundation
4.00pm‘Building a global model for advocacy: World Access to Higher Education Day’ 
Professor Sue Welburn FRSE, Vice Principal Global Access, University of Edinburgh, Scotland
4.30pmSumming up
Dr. Graeme Atherton


Higher Education (HE) participation is unequal across the globe. New research to be released this Spring and previewed exclusively at this workshop shows that we have evidence of inequalities in participation in HE in over 90% of the countries in the world. This session will bring together leading figures in HE from South Africa and internationally to look at:

  • What do inequities in access mean in different countries?
  • As HE expands globally how can this be done equitably?
  • How can these inequalities be addressed?
  • How can we collaborate internationally together to advocate for policies and investment to widen access to HE equitably?

Details of this Session:
This session is limited to 80 participants.

Protea Hotel Breakwater Lodge
Portswood Road
V&A Waterfront
Cape Town