How can HEIs attract greater numbers of mature learners?

NEON Summit

  • Date


  • Time

      9:30 am - 4:00 pm

Thank you for your interest in the NEON Summit, if you have any questions about this event, please contact Maria-Anna Petrou.

Please note that due to the developing situation with coronavirus, this event will be held online and we are now taking bookings for the online event.


In the recently released Office for Students (OfS) report, “Transforming opportunity in higher education”, it is stated that “Mature students have not been prioritised by many providers despite low and decreasing proportions of such students in their populations and the sector more broadly.”

There is a clear expectation that higher education institutions (HEIs) will make enhanced steps in order to reverse this trend, and this will need to be reflected in their access and participation plans (APPs).

This NEON Summit will bring together key policy makers, researchers and practitioners to discuss how the educational sector can react in order to increase the participation of mature learners and ensure the equality in participation rates, that OfS are seeking, by 2038.

During the day we will:

  • Review the latest research into the progression, retention and success of mature learners;
  • Hear about the progress that has been made;
  • Share insights into current practice that specifically supports this target group;
  • Discuss future strategies to ensure HEIs can make progress in this important area.



More information coming soon.


Draft agenda


10:00WelcomeDr Graeme Atherton, Director, NEON
10:10Keynote speaker


Sandra Binns, Senior Officer, Fair Access and Participation, Office for Students
10:40Keynote speakerJohn Butcher, Director, Open University
11:20Effective interventionsUniversity of Sheffield

Dr Willy Kitchen, Head of Department for Lifelong Learning and Helen Roy, Marketing and External Relations Manager


Hear about the University of Sheffield’s foundation year provision for mature students, and how their curriculum is tailored to the needs of adults who have been out of education for some time. The presentation will also cover the support offered to mature students, and how this support provides effective transition on to degree level study.

Dr Willy Kitchen and Helen Roy will also give an insight into how the University of Sheffield attract and recruit mature students, via their tailored marketing, recruitment and outreach programme which includes a strong focus on engaging with adults in their local communities.

11:50Effective interventionsLeeds Arts University

Dr. Samantha Broadhead, Head of Research and Martell Baines, Progression Manager


Leeds Arts University use a mature student’s framework consisting interventions that address the whole student lifecycle. Support and opportunities have been put in place for them in pre-access, further education, undergraduate and postgraduate stages so they can become successful creative practitioners. The key to the success of these practical interventions is that they are cross- and whole institutional strategies, timely, accessible and flexible but importantly also focuses on the individual needs of the student.

In turn the student as alumni of the university then contributes to the cycle of education for others they encounter in their sphere as influencers, their contribution back to their community and in the public realm by their advocacy for the Arts.

14:00Welcome backDr Graeme Atherton, Director, NEON
14:05Keynote speaker


Professor Vicky Duckworth, Professor in Education,

Edge Hill University

14:30Keynote speaker


Dr Fiona Aldridge, Director for Policy and Research, Learning and Work Institute
15:00How we can support mature learners onlineCharlotte Barratt, Global Recruitment Officer (UK Postgraduate & Mature Students), University of Leicester
15:55Closing remarksDr Graeme Atherton, Director, NEON
16:00End of event 



Membership organisation rate: £99
Non-member organisation rate: £169
Please email Maria-Anna Petrou if you are unsure of your organisations NEON Membership status or click here.


Date: Wednesday, 13th May 2020
Time:10am start until 4pm