NEON Online Summit, “How can we stop student poverty killing widening access?”

  • Date


  • Time

      10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Over the past two years, the cost of living crisis has thrust student poverty to the forefront of urgent issues higher education institutions need to deal with. Often when crisis strikes the most disadvantaged are hit the hardest. A report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Students in March 2023 highlighted that the rising cost of living was having a greater impact on students from a widening access background. Their student experience has been drastically altered and rising costs are affecting their decision to stay in higher education or going in the first place. The situation is compounded by a decrease in the number of students qualifying for the maximum student loan, as the lower parental earnings threshold has stayed frozen at £25,000 since 2008. This alarming confluence of factors underscores an urgent need to understand the financial challenges currently faced by students from widening access backgrounds and identify how the sector as a whole can alleviate their burdens.  

What is the event about? 

This one-day online summit aims to expand the conversation beyond students not having enough money. Delegates will get an in-depth overview of the challenges currently faced by students – particularly from widening access backgrounds – amid the cost of living crisis and the higher education sector’s responses to these challenges. By focusing on the impact of the current financial crisis on widening participation, delegates will share effective practices and initiatives and discuss what more can be done. This summit also provides a platform to explore what strategies and partnerships can be leveraged to support disadvantaged students even as institutions face their own financial constraints. At the end of the summit, participants will leave with enhanced insights and strategies to bolster support for students in their institutions amid these challenging times.  

Speakers include: 

  • Professor David Phoenix, Vice Chancellor, London South Bank University
  • Dr Huw Bell, Reader in Teaching and Learning, Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Jenny Smith, Policy Manager, Student Minds
  • Jonathan Neves, Head of Business Intelligence & Surveys, Advance HE 
  • Josh Freeman, Policy Manager, Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) 
  • Dr Richard Boffey, Head of AccessHE
  • Dr Xin Shao, Research Fellow, UCL Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities 
  • More presenters to be announced 

Who should attend? 

  • Senior managers with responsibility for Access and Participation Plans within their organisations  
  • Heads of Student Support Services  
  • Higher education professionals responsible for widening access activities and their implementation, either within a higher education provider or through a Uni Connect partnership  
  • Colleagues supporting students to access student finance, bursaries and other funding opportunities  
  • Student Union Officers