This blog is part of the series featuring ideas contained in the new HEPI-Brightside report, Reaching the parts of society universities have missed: A manifesto for the new Director for Fair Access and Participation. It showcases the idea from Professor Tim Quine, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) at the University of Exeter.
Ensuring a more diverse population progresses to higher education should undoubtedly be a key aim for the sector. This means not only economically or socially disadvantaged students, but mature and part-time students as well as under-represented ethnic groups. However, as universities become more adept at identifying potential during the admissions process (through the application of contextual data, for example), they must also ensure that all learners, irrespective of background, succeed in their studies and immerse themselves in the wider opportunities a university education brings. We must also ensure students are supported to progress to the next stage of their career, be that further study or employment.
The Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) has shone a light on differential outcomes at universities but we need to know more about why these differences happen. The Office for Students should encourage universities to conduct rigorous research to uncover any hidden assumptions about the content and delivery of the existing curriculum as well as the examination and assessment techniques currently employed.
Universities must also guarantee equality of access to high- quality internships / work placements and international experiences for all students, while also balancing universal support for students with targeted support where it is most needed.