Students have constituted the labour force for access to HE work in the past 10 years. However, the potential for students to shape our work and to also reach deeper into the student body remains largely untapped.
Working with the National Union of Students (NUS), NEON has built on the foundations it put in place in 2013 and offer a set of activities focused on engaging students’ unions. Over 20 students’ unions joined NEON. We are looking to substantially increase this number.
Students’ unions potentially have a huge role to play in widening access to HE and social mobility. Being a member of NEON, profiling your work on our NEON Access Community pages, in our weekly NEON News best practice feature and nominating your learners and activities in our annual Awards will allow you to connect with the HEIs, schools, colleges, students’ unions and voluntary sector organisations working in the widening access field.
To maximise the potential contribution that students’ unions can make to widening access it is essential that officers have the skills and knowledge to influence what their own institutions are doing and to learn more about what they themselves as organisations can do to in this area.
Our seminars, the Access Academy Training and our Postgraduate Certificate qualification in access practice, all provide a range of opportunities to support your staff to develop their knowledge and skills and for you to meet your commitment to their continuing professional development in a cost effective way.
The best way for students’ unions to deliver better outcomes for their members and future members is by collective action. The best way to do this is by being part of the only national ‘access mission group’. We have different working groups in areas of access practice including supporting learners with disabilities and from supporting progression of learners from Access courses to HE. Student union members will be able to work closely with other members, in particular HEIs, via the Engaging Students’ Unions in Widening Access Working Group which is looking at how students’ unions can make a greater contribution to widening access work and how policy can support this to happen.