The University of Liverpool. Access Agreement - Entry

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1 The University of Liverpool Access Agreement - Entry Contacts for Enquiries: Laura Cattell Head of Educational Opportunities Patrick Hackett Deputy Vice-Chancellor 1

2 Contents Introduction The University of Liverpool Access Agreement Fees for new fee-regulated part-time entrants in Estimated number of entrants at each fee level Real term rises in the fee for onwards Access and Student Success Measures Assessment of Access and Retention Record Retention Student Success and Employability Balance of Expenditure Collaboration Diversity & Equality Setting the Strategic Approach to Access and Student Success Pre-16 Outreach: Target Audience: Ages Post -16 and Community Outreach: Target Audience: Ages 16-18, vulnerable groups of students Liverpool Scholars Programme Realising Opportunities Target Schools and Colleges Looked After Children and Care Leavers Disabled Students Mature Students Enhancing community and schools outreach Fair Admissions and Contextual Data Student Support Expenditure on Financial Support, Retention and Success Bursaries and Fee Discounts Targets and Milestones Monitoring and evaluation Equality and Diversity Provision of information to prospective students Appendix 1: Internal University of Liverpool Governance Structure for monitoring the Access Agreement Appendix 2 Widening Participation an Overview

3 Tables and Figures Table 1 University of Liverpool fee structure, Table 2 University of Liverpool WP rankings Table 3 University of Liverpool Retention Performance 7 Table 4 Numbers of Scholars students applying to higher education by faculty 14 Table 5 Success rates of Realising Opportunities students 15 Figure 1 Model of Provision for the Wellbeing Framework 19 3

4 Introduction We have a strong commitment to providing opportunities for talented students from all backgrounds and this is reflected in our excellent reputation for Widening Participation. We want to extend this commitment to new areas and reinforce our existing strengths. We will strive to become the acknowledged world leader and innovator of the Widening Participation agenda. University of Liverpool Strategic Plan Widening Participation has been a key Strategic Aim at the University of Liverpool within the most recent Strategic Plan and the University s record in this area is exemplary. In the English Russell Group, the University is currently ranked: 1 st for the recruitment of students from Low Participation Neighbourhoods; 1 st for the recruitment of students from State Schools and Colleges; 3 rd for the proportion of students recruited from Lower Socio-Economic Groups (NS-SEC 4-7) (joint third). At the time of writing this Access Agreement, the University is currently undertaking a strategic review and consultation which will result in a new strategic plan for The University of Liverpool from This has proved a perfect opportunity to review our approach to widening participation and to consolidate existing good practice and performance while at the same time enhancing our existing provision in the areas of greatest need across the institution. In drafting the University s Access Agreement, we have focused our approach on targeting groups of students underrepresented in our institution, as well as strengthening our commitment to evaluation and enhancing success rates for all students. 1. The University of Liverpool Access Agreement This Access Agreement represents the University s overarching Widening Participation Strategy. Contained in the Agreement is a restating of the University s commitment to extending widening participation, an overview of the institution s performance against a range of WP indicators, and an ambitious list of future targets and milestones. Underpinning the Access Agreement is a direct collaboration between our three faculties, professional services departments (Educational Opportunities, Careers and Employability, Strategic Planning, Student Administration and Support, and Marketing and Communications) and the Guild of Students. Each faculty has a Widening Participation action plan which is developed in consultation with professional services, following the submission of the Access Agreement. The Guild of Students is represented in all groups that relate to the Access Agreement and collaborates closely with the University to ensure the Access Agreement reflects the views of our students. In particular, the Access Agreement has been developed around the strategic priorities identified by OFFA and HEFCE in the national strategy published last year and in the OFFA Strategic Plan These are: A strategic, whole-institution approach 4

5 A student lifecycle approach Greater collaboration and partnership at every level Evidence based practice Learner focused Ensuring Access Agreement expenditure supports all areas of need within access, student success and progression. Monitoring of the Access Agreement will be undertaken by the Widening Participation Working Group, which in turn will report to the Admissions and Widening Participation Committee. Each January, a detailed Monitoring Report is submitted to HEFCE and OFFA which provides a statistical update on the University s performance against its targets and milestones. 1. Fees, Student Numbers and Fee Income The average fee charged by the University in will be 8,761. When adjusted for all types of financial support, this figure stands at 8,083. The maximum fee charged will be 9,000. The University s fee structure for the academic year for new system students is as follows. Table 1 University of Liverpool fee structure, Programme Type First degree Foundation Year (of specified courses based at Carmel College, St Helens and Birkenhead 6 th Form College) Year in Industry Year Abroad Fee 9,000 p.a. 5,000 p.a. 1,800 p.a. 1,350 p.a. 1.1 Fees for new fee-regulated part-time entrants in For all eligible undergraduate programmes, students studying on a part-time basis will be charged pro-rata to the maximum allowable fee of 9,000. No part-time student will be charged more than 6,750 in an academic year, in line with the fees regulations. Financial support for these students will be available on a pro-rata basis Estimated number of entrants at each fee level The predicted numbers of entrants by fee level is presented in Table 1 of the OFFA spreadsheets Real term rises in the fee for onwards. We will apply annual increases in line with the amount set by the Government. 2. Access and Student Success Measures 2.1. Assessment of Access and Retention Record Table 2 provides a summary of the University s performance in terms of the recruitment of students from underrepresented social and economic categories. 5

6 The University recruits a greater proportion of its students from low participation neighbourhoods and a higher proportion of students from state schools and colleges than any other English Russell Group university (HESA PI s Table 1a ). Students at Liverpool are also more likely to be from households with below-average incomes, where few if any relatives have ever attended higher education. Table 2 University of Liverpool WP Rankings Low Participation Neighborhoods (LPN) 2.Lower Socioeconomic Groups (NS- SEC 4-7) 3.State Schools and Colleges 4.Disabled Students Allowance University of Liverpool 9.6% 23.8% 87.7% 4.8% English Russell Group 5.54% 19.8% 74.2% 5.5% England 10.9% 33.1% 89.4% 7.1% English Russell Group Ranking (proportion) 1 st 3 rd 1 st 16 th Standard benchmark 8.4% 27.1% 85.3% 5.9% Standard deviation In the past year, progress has continued to be made against the University s WP benchmarks. For example, for the academic session : We continue to see an increase in the percentage of full-time state school entrants to the University Target: 85.8%; achieved: 87.7%) Recruitment for those from low participation neighbourhoods has been maintained at 9.6% (exceeds an original target of 9.1%) The University has generally under-performed against its benchmark for the recruitment of students who are in receipt of the Disabled Students Allowance. This issue has been commented on in previous reports to OFFA and further plans are in place to undertake a review of this. The implications of recent changes to the DSA have added a further level of uncertainty to this area of work and the University has spent significant time researching and consulting to assess what level of additional service and resourcing will need to be implemented. 2.2 Retention The University s retention record is excellent and one of the best in the sector. Our rate of retention for mature learners has improved and we now see a much lower rate of non-continuation at 6.9% 1 Sources: 1, 2, 3: HESA PIs Table 1a, : Young FT first degree entrants. 4) HESA PI s Table 7, , FT first degree. 6

7 compared with the Russell Group average of 8.4% and the average for England at 12% (Table 3). In regard to young students from low participation neighbourhoods, we have seen an unexpected increase in their non-continuation rates in , with a rate of 8.0% (an increase of 3.5 percentage points). We will be monitoring this closely and seeking to understand the reasons for this increase over the next academic year. The improvement in the retention of mature students is in part due to the range of suitable pathways into the University for mature learners such as the University s Year 0 and programmes delivered jointly with local FE colleges, and the Go Higher Humanities and Social Sciences pathway. Go Higher in particular is working towards creating an active alumni group which we hope will help retention by supplying an active but informal peer support network. This would also offer a core constituency for the University Mature Students Society. All programmes have excellent progression rates to the University and many adult learners on these pathways go onto postgraduate study. Table 3 University of Liverpool Non-Continuation Performance Category 2008/9 2009/ / / /13 ALL Liverpool 5.1% (5.2) 4.2% (5.2) 3.8% (4.4) 4.1% (4.2) 4.5% (4.3) Russell Group 4.2% 4.1% 3.6% 3.5% 3.6% England 7.8% 8.4% 7.3% 6.6% 7.0% Young Liverpool 4.1% (4.2) 3.4% (4.3) 3.6% (3.7) 3.4% (3.5) 4.2% (3.7) Russell Group 3.6% 3.5% 3.0% 2.8% 3.1% England 6.4% 7.1% 6.2% 5.7% 5.7% 11.2% (10.7) 9.6% (10.4) 5.3% (9.0) 9.4% (9.1) 6.9% (9.5) Mature Liverpool Russell Group 9.3% 9.5% 8.7% 8.5% 8.8% England 12.9% 13.2% 11.5% 10.3% 12% LPN (POLAR 3) Liverpool 6.3% (6.1) 5.6% (5.5) 5.0% (4.9) 4.5% (4.9) 8.0% (5.1) Russell Group 4.9% 5.3% 5.0% 4.6% 4.7% England 8.6% 9.8% 8.8% 7.9% 7.7% Please note: figures above relate to the proportion of students who left their courses prematurely. Benchmark figures in brackets Student Success and Employability The University achieves some of the highest levels of graduate employment and study in the sector, and in , 89.3% of our graduates were either employed or enrolled on further study and training courses within six months of graduation. This figure is 88.6% for students from socioeconomic groups NS-SEC

8 As with other universities in the sector, students social and economic background can influence access to graduate career opportunities. To work towards addressing this issue a senior Careers Adviser has strategic responsibility for the Careers and Employability Service s employability initiatives for students from Widening Participation backgrounds. Several initiatives are currently being introduced or progressed at the University which will enable all students, regardless of social and economic background, to achieve their career aspirations. My Liverpool, a new website portal, was launched in 2014 which signposts students to a variety of extracurricular opportunities available to them while at the University. Based on feedback from leading graduate recruiters and the CBI, the new portal will seek to overcome social and economic barriers by helping students develop their skills, contacts and work experience. The University s pioneering Student Alumni mentoring programme, which was introduced in , is to be extended in to encompass higher numbers of students particularly those who have enrolled at the University via the Scholars programme. Our targets for the numbers of students being mentored will be 80 for and 100 for The past two years have demonstrated that not all students from Widening Participation backgrounds want to have a mentor or are ready to choose a career area from which to choose a suitable mentor. We will address this in two ways through: Launching a new ask an expert service, using our many alumni who have not been matched with a mentee to answer careers questions from students from Widening Participation backgrounds. This will engage with a greater number of students than mentoring, but could demonstrate to students the benefit of having a mentor and therefore lead to a mentoring relationship. Engaging with students in year one, before they have to make a decision about having a mentor. We will target first year students through roadshows in the Guild of Students, Halls of Residence and libraries and actively target our communications to under-represented groups about careers events. We will write a communications plan specifically for students from Widening Participation backgrounds so that we can ensure that they have the appropriate support and information to progress their career planning. The plan will be based on a career needs analysis that we intend to carry out in Employers in the Times Top 100 increasingly have specific diversity aims and we plan to work with these employers to help them achieve their objectives of recruiting from under-represented groups. We will aim to enable students from Widening Participation backgrounds to gain insights into these employers; engage employers as mentors; and organise specific events on campus to meet the needs of employers and raise the aspirations of our students from Widening Participation backgrounds. Given the importance in today s job market of relevant work experience, the University launched Liverpool Interns in 2014 which helps first and second year undergraduates obtain Easter and summer internships experience and insights. The Careers and Employability Service will actively target students from Widening Participation backgrounds to ensure that they have access to this programme which includes one-to-one support from a Placement Adviser, a weekly newsletter and an online course designed to enhance the internship experience. 8

9 Supporting local and student employability: Alongside many employability-focused initiatives for our current undergraduates and alternative provision for mature learners, we have also developed a number of training and work-based pathways within the University for younger students without traditional qualifications. Students aged years old can enter into short term work experience at the University which can in turn lead to certified traineeships. These traineeships are prioritised for those students falling into the category of Not in Employment, Education or Training. This group is a priority area for the Liverpool city region authority and so Human Resources colleagues work collaboratively with local council colleagues to develop the provision and target learners appropriately. Beyond traineeships which last between weeks, the University also offers pre-apprenticeships for year olds (funded by the Liverpool City Council) as well as apprenticeships for students aged 16 or over (funded by the University of Liverpool). All these routes are accredited and can ultimately lead onto undergraduate study at the University as well as graduate training routes. In the University will launch its own two year graduate traineeships which will target proactively those students underrepresented in higher education and will involve four, six month placements in a number of professional services departments. Student Development: The University of Liverpool Student Advocate scheme is successful in supporting outreach work with schools and colleges and with specific student groups as identified by feedback from prospective students and applicants from non-traditional backgrounds. We will be further expanding this scheme to deliver: a programme of one-to-one shadowing with local students; ementoring for local students and first year students; mentoring programmes with groups such as the Wirral leaving care service and provision for looked after children. A package of training and development is being enhanced at present for the Student Advocates which we will continue to deliver. We will also increase the number of Student Advocates who go out on placement to local schools. The programme has proved incredibly successful and has allowed us to work closely and collaboratively with local Borough School Improvement teams and schools themselves Balance of Expenditure In the English Russell Group, the University of Liverpool has been ranked the third largest recruiter of students whose household income falls below 25,000. In recognition of this, the support packages we have developed are designed not only to attract students to the University but, crucially, to support them during their studies. In doing so, our funding directly aids retention and progression. For , we broadly intend to maintain the current percentage of new fee income devoted to Widening Participation activities. We will continue to place emphasis on activities designed to boost student success and will be consulting with students to identify better the areas of support needed, as well as researching the issues behind the gaps in attainment between specific groups of students. We are also continuing the extended bursary offer introduced in This will mean that all students with a household income of up to 25,000 will receive a 2,000 per annum bursary. Students whose household income falls between 25,000 and 42,620 will receive a bursary of 1,000 per annum. Although it is not OFFA-countable we have also introduced excellence scholarships for high achieving students from low-income backgrounds and these will be funded solely by alumni-fundraising. Funds will be maintained to enable a long-term sustainable expansion of the Scholars programme, which, as our research suggests, is currently converting over 70 per cent of students into university entrants. We are currently planning a programme of ongoing transition, engagement and support for this group to start in 2016 onwards which will seek to complement the existing support structures at the University. 9

10 Now that we have subscribed to the Higher Education Access Tracker we will be piloting this data capture in a few areas of the institution and will aim to expand it across the whole institution by Collaboration Outside of Greater Merseyside we coordinate aspects of our pre-16 outreach advice focusing on selective universities with our Russell Group neighbour, The University of Manchester. As two premier research institutions in the North West, we are working together to share the efficient deployment of peripatetic staff across each of the five areas of the North West in a way that minimises geographical cold-spots across the non-urban parts of the region. The Russell Group s Informed Choices guidance on post-16 choices has been utilised in delivering effective IAG on subject choices and higher aspirations to pre-16 learners. Together we have developed an information guide for pupils which sets out some of the key decisions learners are faced with at specific transition stages. This is used alongside presentations delivered by staff and students from both universities. This has proved to be a pioneering project and has made considerable inroads into low participation schools. This collaborative work is expanding and plans include residentials and workshops in Cumbria over the summer period to follow up the visits carried out over the years. We have now expanded our collaborative work to include other universities in the region. We are the lead institution for the Merseyside Network for Collaborative Outreach, a HEFCE funded network of six universities (Liverpool Hope University, Edge Hill University, University of Chester, University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University and Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts) and four FE colleges that provide HE courses (Riverside College, City of Liverpool College, St Helen s College, and Wirral Metropolitan College) as well as other schools and colleges who are not formal partners. This is the first time since the end of Aimhigher that such a network has been formed in the region and we are excited to see what can be achieved in the region by working collaboratively. A manager for the Network has now been appointed and initial plans include an interactive website to showcase opportunities, a large scale launch for teachers, access to health events, mentoring for looked after children, attainment mentoring, and the potential to work together with local education business partnerships to create sustainable careers and IAG resources. The Russell Group WP Association has provided a forum for collaborative work across these highly selective institutions for many years. As well as providing peer support for senior WP staff, the group plans and delivers collaborative activity including the biennial Teachers Conference and practitioner networks. The group has recently been awarded funding for an agreed Proof of Concept project with HEFCE to develop and deliver CPD materials for teachers to support progression to selective universities funded by National Networks for Collaborative Outreach (NNCO). The University of Liverpool will be an active member of the project and the Head of Educational Opportunities will sit on the steering group for the project Diversity & Equality The University remains committed to addressing the underrepresentation of specific equality groups in its access, outreach and retention activities. Relevant student access and retention objectives identified within the Access Agreement Equality Data Report 2013, along with key equality objectives in the University s Equality Action Plan ( ) and Athena SWAN Bronze Action Plan ( ), will be embedded in all implementation activities. Specifically the protected characteristics of age, disability, gender and the race of students will be considered. From 2015 the University has 10

11 appointed a Gender Equality Officer to ensure and monitor our Athena Swan commitments. From April 2015 a Race Equality Mark will be implemented across the institution. In summary, areas of success for the University to maintain include: the recruitment of students from state schools and colleges and low participation neighbourhoods; the conversion rates for care leaver applicants (offer to accept) and the provision of peer mentoring support for all first year undergraduates, while areas identified as priorities for future attention include: An in-depth survey and consultation with disabled students (in conjunction with the Guild of Students) to cement an evidence base with which to enhance the support offered, as well as the outreach provision for this group of students Research into the levels of underrepresentation for NS-SEC 4-7 students at faculty and school level An institutional commitment to supporting more mature learners onto all University of Liverpool degree programmes Tackling underrepresentation of specific ethnic minority groups as well as enhancing degree classifications for these groups Ongoing evaluation of non-continuation rates for all our students, in particular those from low participation neighbourhoods Widening the scope of targeted employability measures to other groups of students such as care leaver and disabled students. 3. Setting the Strategic Approach to Access and Student Success The University of Liverpool s outreach activities target the following under-represented groups: Those from National Socio-Economic Classifications 4-7 (lower socio-economic groups) Those living in low participation neighborhoods Young people who have been in local authority care Inclusion of students who may have a disability, those that come from specific ethnic minority backgrounds and gender underrepresentation in specific programme areas The University has continued to follow the four-step framework for its Widening Participation activities, i.e. Pre-16 Outreach focus on awareness-raising / progression to higher education as both an option and a choice (ages 9-16) Post-16 and Community Outreach Aspiration and attainment-raising activities linked directly to choice and attainment (ages 16-17) Fair Admissions - Scholars, Realising Opportunities and Go Higher schemes, which are directly linked to supported admissions (16+ years and adults returning to education) Retention and Success - Activities to support students in achieving their potential This framework has been developed over a number of years, working in partnership with other Merseyside HEIs and with a wide range of schools and colleges both regionally and nationally. At time of writing this Access Agreement the University has seen an increase in applications to the University of around 20% compared with While this represents a strong position for the University, we are keen to ensure that this does not disadvantage students from the widening participation cohort. In this respect, contextual data will be used formally for the first time at 11

12 Confirmation in 2015 to support decision making in relation to applicants who do not meet the terms of the University s offer. 3.1 Pre-16 Outreach: Target Audience: Ages 9-16 Objectives: Maintain delivery of Professor Fluffy and related primary curriculum to target schools Develop further on and off-campus outreach programmes with years 5-11 Increase the number of aspiration-raising summer schools Expand opportunities for young people from the care system and those young adults with caring responsibilities Embed diversity and equality consideration within all outreach activities. The University continues to work with the top feeder primary schools to our partner secondary schools in order to provide early awareness raising programmes targeted at Year 5/6 (Key Stage 2) children, and then continue with partner/associate schools with Year 7 (Key Stage 3), and Year 8 (Key Stage 3) interventions. A five-year aspiration and attainment raising programme then follows for years 9-11/13 (Key Stage 3-4) (with a future focus on routes into the professions such as Medicine and Dentistry). In addition, subject-specific summer schools are offered for Year 10 students (Key Stage 4). There is a targeted aspiration-raising programme of bespoke activity for young people who have been in care, which operates at Key Stage 3-4, and a mentoring programme for students from an ethnic minority background from Key Stage 4 (Year 11). This year we are also piloting a programme of Saturday school activities for pre-16 students attending local supplementary schools. Young Carers: There are estimated to be 375,000 young adult carers (YAC) in the UK aged between the ages of (Supporting Students with Caring Responsibilities, Carers Trust, 2014). Representatives from the Student Support Services (SSS) and Educational Opportunities (EO) are represented on the Liverpool Universities and College Steering Group for Young Adult Carers in HE and FE (LUCS) facilitated by the charity Barnardo s, on behalf of the Local Authority. SSS and EO will collaborate in developing an integrated approach to outreach and student support for YAC, working in collaboration with external support groups. We will work with academic colleagues to raise awareness of the particular issues that affect YAC which can lead to students dropping out of studies. SSS will offer all YAC a dedicated staff member within the team who will be able to offer support and advice and can liaise with other departments if required. Evaluation activity is undertaken for all the programmes above on completion of the interventions. 3.2 Post -16 and Community Outreach: Target Audience: Ages 16-18, vulnerable groups of students Potential applicants to HE from NS SEC 4-7 and those living in low participation neighbourhoods Black and minority ethnic (BAME) Students Care leavers Disabled students Young Carers 12

13 Refugee students and their parents/carers Target schools and colleges Realising Opportunities Group Objectives: Managed and sustainable increase in the numbers of Scholars recruited Expand bespoke programme designed to support the progression of care leavers to HE Raise the profile of, and recruitment to, HE generally and the University of Liverpool specifically, in target schools and colleges through both collaborative and independent arrangements Work with targeted groups of learners who are marginalized in HE such as disabled learners, refugee students and young adult carers 3.3 Liverpool Scholars Programme The University of Liverpool Scholars programme aims to support students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds with applications and entry to the University of Liverpool and the wider higher education sector. The programme consists of a range of academic activities, including skills workshops, lectures and seminars designed to help prepare students for university life. Each student is supported by an academic tutor. Evidence suggests that the programme is highly effective in terms of building students confidence and enhancing their UCAS application. In addition, for those students who complete the programme, Scholars provides: A guaranteed conditional offer of a place at the University of Liverpool (this offer is reduced by the equivalent of 40 UCAS points); A non-repayable University of Liverpool financial bursary to help towards tuition fees and living expenses. (Students studying NHS funded programmes are ineligible for the Liverpool Scholars Bursary but are instead eligible for a NHS bursary and means-tested grant). One of the key initiatives of the University for 2015 onwards is a continued and managed expansion of the Scholars programme, building on the steady annual increase in numbers on this two-year programme. The rationale for this is strongly evidence-based. Research indicates that during the last three years the percentage of students who are progressing into higher education from the Scholars programme has been rising substantially (see Table 5). The Scholars programme attracted over 250 applications from 25 local schools and sixthform colleges. Of these 220 students were recruited to the two-year programme. 13

14 Table 4 Numbers of Scholars students applying to higher education by faculty: Health & Life Sciences (HLS), Science & Engineering (S&E), and Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS) SCHOLARS 2012 INTAKE HLS S&E HSS TOTALS Number of UCAS applications Accepted by University of Liverpool Placed at other HE institutions Not continuing to higher education SCHOLARS 2013 INTAKE HLS S&E HSS TOTALS Number of UCAS applications Accepted by University of Liverpool Placed at other HE institutions Not continuing to higher education Students who were classified as Unknown (i.e. applied through UCAS but not to The University of Liverpool) have not been included here, as at present we can only access this information if a student has made an application through UCAS and the University of Liverpool is among their choices. 3.4 Realising Opportunities The University of Liverpool is a member of Realising Opportunities (RO), a unique collaborative partnership of research intensive universities developing and delivering a national fair access scheme which promotes social and geographic mobility for students from underrepresented groups. Realising Opportunities has a robust evaluation framework which incorporates contextual data, student aspirations and the tracking of students through the HEAT database and UCAS. The award-winning Realising Opportunities programme, developed through shared best practice, provides support for students through interventions designed to raise aspirations, develop skills and enable them to demonstrate their potential to succeed at a research intensive university. These interventions are offered locally and nationally and include a National Student Conference, ongoing support and encouragement from a trained student ementor and an academic assessment element. Successful completion of RO will result in additional consideration given to applications through UCAS from all Partner universities, and the potential for an alternative offer worth up to 40 UCAS points or equivalent. Each of the participating institutions has committed future funds to the central operating budget to ensure the ongoing delivery and development of RO to 31 July For this will be a maximum of 37,000 per Partner. At the University of Liverpool we are ensuring that students on the Realising Opportunities programme across the country gain access to the wide range of outreach activity we offer and we are working hard to raise the profile of our events amongst these students. We are also intending to host one of the Realising Opportunities national student conferences at our campus in 2016 (approximately 500 students typically attend these conferences). 14

15 RO s independent evaluators, the Institute for Effective Education, commented in December 2014 It is evident, for example, given the emphasis on collaboration and outreach activities in the HEFCE/OFFA National Strategy (2014 p94), that RO is ahead of the game in terms of these activities. The programme has matured, with some of the collaborative relationships being in place for six years or more, and now has long-standing and sustained relationships across the university, college and school sectors. Targets are contingent on UCAS providing the RO Central Team with the required data to evidence progression of RO students to Research Intensive Universities. Additionally targets beyond 2017 are notional. Table 5 Success rates for RO students We now have data for the first set of Realising Opportunities graduates and initial evidence suggests that retention rates in RO students have been higher than the national average. At the University of Liverpool 7 of the 17 students who entered the University in 2011 have now graduated and there were a good proportion of students who attained a 2.1 although numbers are too small to draw many conclusions. Realising Opportunities Cohort 1 Degree Results University of Liverpool Q1 Numbers of RO students who entered this RO institution in Q2 Number of RO students who graduated in Q3 Number of RO students who graduated from UoL and received a 1 st 0 Q4 Number of RO students who graduated from UoL and received a Q5 Number of RO students who graduated from UoL and received a Q6 Number of RO students who graduated from UoL and received a 3 rd 0 Q7 Number of RO students entering in 2011 who are continuing on courses at UoL 10 Q8 Number of RO students entering in 2011 who withdrew from course at UoL Target Schools and Colleges The University has a Schools Partnership Strategy which details how it works with Associate, Partner and Target Schools and Colleges. The University also co-sponsors two Academies (the North Liverpool Academy, and the Enterprise South Liverpool Academy) and the Liverpool Life Sciences University Technical College (UTC). The latter is a partnership between an industrial sponsor, the University, and the North Liverpool Academy. The implementation of the Schools Partnership Strategy supports the University s ethos that the most effective way of working with schools and colleges to improve access to HE, is to support capacity building at school level and to achieve lasting culture change in schools, particularly where HE participation rates are low. 15

16 The core activity of the Schools Partnership Strategy is delivered in a joint approach by the Education Liaison Team (recruitment) and the Educational Opportunities Team (widening participation/outreach) with wider support from the faculties and other professional service areas, who also report in figures on their outreach activity. This approach ensures that all work with schools and colleges across the University - recruitment, outreach, curriculum and volunteering opportunities for students, improving academic performance, support for academies and UTCs, and commercial activities - are managed in a more integrated and effective way. The Education Liaison Team has a target list of 325 secondary schools and colleges with which it engages, as well as delivering a range of events and conferences for teachers and HE Advisors. The Educational Opportunities Team has a growing target list of local partner and associate primary and secondary schools on which it focuses its wide range of outreach activities. This focussed approach to targeting aims to provide disadvantaged pupils with a long-term and sustained programme of activities throughout their school career that raises aspirations and awareness of HE, as well as supporting attainment and access. Schools are targeted on the following basis: Schools which have an above average proportion of pupils who are in receipt of Free School Meals (FSM); and Schools which have a high percentage of pupils living in one of the 13,000 most deprived lower super output areas (LSOA) in England, as identified by the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). 3.6 Looked After Children and Care Leavers Over the years the University has achieved the Buttle UK Quality Mark at the exemplary level for our processes and procedures to support care leavers. Although the Buttle UK Quality Mark will be discontinued, we will continue with our work in this area. The Care Leavers Working Group remains an active group in the University and current work involves increasing and improving our communications with care leavers and ensuring clarity of information regarding our offer to care leavers. Following consultation with local authority teams we have refocused our pre-entry work with looked after children and care leavers and now offer a bespoke service as well as targeted activity. This involves offering bespoke visits and 1:1 sessions with looked after children or care leaver students. We are working particularly closely with the Wirral, Knowsley and Liverpool looked after children services, and, in Wirral, University of Liverpool students are working in local schools mentoring looked after children. We have worked hard to increase representation for current care leaver undergraduates within our outreach activity and we now have a good number of student advocates who are care leavers working for the University on outreach programmes. To increase conversion and support we also send out individual invitations to our Open Days to care leavers, through the Care Leavers Teams, and also circulate information about pastoral and financial support for care leavers provided by the University to the North West Care Leaving Teams. The Student Support Services at the University continue to provide a named contact for any care leaver coming to the University and this is key in providing a seamless educational transition for care leaver students. All care leaver students who fulfil the relevant eligibility criteria at the University are entitled to The Care Leaver s Opportunity Bursary, worth 3000 per year which can be taken as a cash award or part of a fee waiver. We have started to consult with our current care leaver undergraduates to better understand the support they need and a representative student will become a regular participant in the Care Leavers Working Group. 16

17 3.7 Disabled Students The University still has progress to make in terms of the numbers of disabled students coming onto our programmes. To understand better the needs of our disabled students we are beginning a process of consultation with disabled students at the University of Liverpool, jointly co-ordinated by the Guild, the Student Support Services and the University s senior researcher in evaluation. We also intend to develop links with local charities and bodies to understand better the local context for disabled learners in the North West so that we can establish and support progression into the University. The University has spent significant time on establishing an appropriate response to the proposed DSA changes. On 12 September 2014 Greg Clark, Minister of State for Universities, Science and Cities, announced that changes to the funding for non-medical helpers would be delayed until 2016/17 to enable universities to prepare for the impact of these changes. The statement indicated that the other changes would be implemented in Whilst the final guidance to HEI has not been published, the draft guidance gives a thorough overview of the planned legislation. This detail was enough for a newly-formed working group to evaluate where processes and University departments were going to be affected by the changes. Representatives from these areas have identified the potential impact of these changes and, where possible, resource implications have been determined and in some cases resolved. Informal feedback from sector wide consultations indicate that there may be some substantial changes to the guidance particularly in relation to the assessment of needs process. Within this context the University needs to establish strategic and operational approaches to embedding support for disabled students to ensure we are able to meet our obligations under the Equality Act and create and inclusive learning and living environment for disabled students. As an institution, we are planning a number of measures: an increase of advisors to support disabled students; a new Disability Policy, a re-positioning of the University Hardship fund to provide assistive technologies for disabled students; and further resource for Assistive Technology within the institution to support all students. 3.8 Mature Students The University continues to review and develop its in-house mature student access course. Go Higher is a year-long, part-time academic-based access course, which prepares students for undertaking a University of Liverpool degree in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. A proportion of students, up to 20%, go on to undergraduate degrees at other institutions. Go Higher students start with a thorough academic induction and preparation programme which offers academic, study skills and mentoring support to help them to make a transition into university study. Go Higher provision has recently been revised to allow it to respond quickly to demands for entry to new subject areas. We hope this will increase the appeal of the programme as well as increase the number of Go Higher students progressing to University of Liverpool degrees. Cost is the most frequent obstacle to undertaking or completing study and as such we are exploring ways of making Go Higher a foundation year programme, thus making it possible for students to access Student Loans to cover the cost of study. We plan to bring further clarity and strength to our offer for mature and adult learners by bringing all pathways together into a coherent offer. We are also demonstrating our commitment to growing the numbers of mature students at the University of Liverpool by setting ourselves a new target within the Access agreement around increasing the number of first degree full time entrants over the age of 21. We offer excellent pathways for adult learners, we value students with nontraditional qualifications and we wish to grow the number of students on programmes such as the Year 0 and courses that we deliver jointly with local FE colleges on faculty-wide courses. 17

18 3.9 Enhancing community and schools outreach As part of our ongoing drive to increase outreach we have sought to make the University s considerable arts, museum and heritage collections more accessible to groups of school pupils (pre and post-16). As a leading Russell Group university, Liverpool has an extensive arts and heritage collection within the Victoria Gallery & Museum (VG&M) which we have been promoting effectively and visibly to local schools and the community. This has involved encouraging schools to make use of the VG&M learning sessions, its artworks and historical artefacts, and encouraging more school groups (and parents) to visit our campus-based museums. The VG&M has a large informal learning programme for families and adult learners, which can be promoted to schools also. Other areas of the institution such as our Libraries also carry out extensive outreach with schools and we intend to work towards capturing the scope and impact of this activity. Close collaboration with the Guild of Students has resulted in an enhanced understanding and range of outreach activity. Through the various volunteering programmes run in the Guild (Green Schools, Societies in Schools, and Science in Schools) we are able to target jointly, share good practice and deliver widening participation work most effectively. Access Agreement targets include the outreach carried out in the Guild and we target schools institutionally so that we are building relationships with local schools across the whole institution. The Guild plays an active role in the construction of the University s Access Agreement, offers free room usage for the Educational Opportunities team and is a driver for widening participation in the University. Liverpool Guild s project Green Schools sees students from the University visit schools across Merseyside and champion the importance of environmental sustainability. As part of this project, students work with school children to help them develop sustainability projects in their local community. In the Liverpool Guild s Societies in Schools programme (run in conjunction with Educational Opportunities) students visit local schools to deliver lessons usually based on the expertise in their society. Students use this opportunity to talk about the importance and value of University education, as well as developing their own skills which will help them gain future employment. 4. Fair Admissions and Contextual Data Research work on the validity of contextual data is ongoing. The University has two students who are undertaking PhDs in the area of WP. The first study is examining the impact of socio-economic status on university performance using a retrospective cohort design; the second is seeking to distinguish how contextual data can practically be incorporated into the admissions process. Contextual data is already used to prioritise unsuccessful applicants for year 1 entry who are referred to the foundation science and engineering programmes at Carmel College but, as a result of the research work currently being undertaken, the University has now agreed a formula to enable it to allocate a flag to applicants who fulfill a range of WP criteria. Development work on the University s IT systems is now complete and a Contextual Data system is now in place which identifies the WP cohort using a series of agreed indicators. It has been agreed that a pilot phase will run during 2015 entry in the non-clinical subject areas. The new contextual data system allows admissions staff to systematically identify applicants who fulfill the defined WP criteria. During the pilot, additional consideration will be given to flagged applicants if they should fail to meet the entry requirements at confirmation. In addition to this new work being undertaken to identify and support the WP cohort, special provisions are already in place for applicants who indicate that they have spent a period in local authority care. 18

19 5. Student Support The University of Liverpool provides support for all students, but provides particular focus for those more vulnerable groups such disabled students and care leavers. The newly established Wellbeing Framework sets out how the University will meet its ambition to support and promote the wellbeing of its staff and students in their research, work and study over the next five years. The framework identifies four key priorities: Healthy Lifestyles; Mental Health; Supporting Key Transitions and Supporting Diverse Cultures and Communities. A Wellbeing Programme Board has been established to take responsibility for the implementation of the Framework and an action plan is in development to support the delivery of the aims and objectives. Membership of the Programme will include representatives from each of the Faculties; Student Administration and Support; Human Resources; Corporate Communications; Legal, Risk and Compliance; Residential, Sport and Commercial Services and the Guild of Students. Figure 1 Model of Provision for the Wellbeing Framework Specialist Provision: designed to meet specified/complex needs e.g.counselling Service Targeted Provision: designed to meet needs of all members of a particular group e.g. Student Experience Teams Universal Provision: designed to support or enhance the wellbeing of all staff and/ or students e.g. Academic Advisers; Health and Safety 6. Expenditure on Financial Support, Retention and Success The University plans to maintain its investment in access-related activities at 1,250,000. At the same time, our expenditure on activities and resources aimed at Student Success will be maintained at 617,000 in This continued investment reflects the priority placed by the University on a range of initiatives designed to ensure that students from all social and economic backgrounds achieve their goals and aspirations both during and after higher education. Following the disestablishment of the Access to Learning Fund the University established the University Hardship Fund. The assessment process follows that used by the Access to Learning Fund. The criteria have been amended to ensure funds are targeted at students experiencing most financial hardship. The University intends to pay 100 per cent of assessed need based on these criteria whereas under the Access to Learning Fund we had only been able to pay 75 per cent of need for students in priority groups and 50 per cent of need for students in non-priority groups. Current indications are that these changes will result in an increase in the average award of about 450 per 19

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