Issue date: 18 July 2014
UWE Bristol is in the top twelve Universities for widening access and improving success among students from low income and other under-represented groups, according to a report published today by HEFCE and OFFA. The figures also show that UWE is seventh in terms of the amount invested in ensuring students succeed on their courses after they have enrolled.
The investment is paying off with UWE Bristol recently being named Higher Education Provider of the Year in the recent QAA Access to HE Awards. UWE is also top in England for added value according to the Guardian University Guide, and seventh in England for graduate employment, according to Higher Education Statistics Agency statistics.
UWE was joint eleventh out of 148 institutions with access agreements for its investments in widening participation, including bursaries, scholarships, outreach activities and student retention/ success measures. The report shows that in 2012-13 universities and colleges in England increased their investment in such measures to a total of £743 million, an increase of £61 million from 2011-12.
Key target groups for widening participation include disabled, black and minority ethnic, mature students and those from low participation neighbourhoods.
Although increased fees had a knock-on effect on progression through higher education among mature students, UWE's outreach work meant almost 500 mature students entered through Access Courses with partnerships with colleges in the region.
Guy Keith–Miller, UWE's Head of Recruitment and Outreach, said, “In 2012-13 UWE gave places to 495 Access to HE students, representing 6.7% of its undergraduate intake. We put on hundreds of outreach events each year, benefiting tens of thousands of potential students.”
This was the first year that 'student success and progression' expenditure was included in access agreements.
Professor Les Ebdon, Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, said, “Our 2012-13 monitoring reveals that institutions are increasingly taking a 'lifecycle' approach to their access work, not only diversifying their intake but also supporting under-represented students during their studies and on to successful outcomes.
“I wholeheartedly welcome this rounded, whole lifecycle approach. Fair access is only meaningful if students from disadvantaged backgrounds are adequately supported not just to enter higher education but also to complete their studies and progress to a graduate-level job or postgraduate study.”
UWE's Deputy Vice-Chancellor John Rushforth said, “The report highlights the value of taking a lifecycle approach to recruiting and retaining students, as UWE does.
“Our investment has continued to grow and from September 2014 we will be investing a total of £15.8 million in improving participation in higher education. This will include more than 700 bursaries for new students from key target groups with income below £25,000, worth up to £5000 over three years.”