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Millions of pounds awarded to tackle barriers to student success

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Published on March 10, 2017

Image credit: CU Coventry

Projects to tackle barriers to student success led by Alliance universities working in partnership with other education providers have been awarded millions of pounds.

HEFCE announced that 17 projects will receive up to £500,000 each over two years from its Catalyst Fund to address differences in student outcomes. A total of £7.5 million will be used to tackle the causes of gaps in attainment and progression to further study and employment.

Students groups that will particularly benefit include black and minority ethnic students, students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, disabled students (including those presenting with mental health issues and specific learning difficulties), and mature and part-time students.

The programme will focus on scaling up activities already proven to be successful in individual higher education (HE) providers and identifying how good practice and intervention can be validated, replicated, transmitted and embedded across a wider range of providers.

This is an area where our group of universities have real strengths. Alliance institutions are the only mission group to achieve both our Widening Participation and Retention Performance indicator benchmarks.  Our report, Supporting Thriving Communities: The role of universities in reducing inequality, identified strategies for success drawing on evidence from across the sector and argued that widening participation needs to go beyond access to include ensuring students are supported to complete their studies and progress to further study or a good job.

Today’s announcement confirmed that seven of the 17 projects will be led by Alliance universities, in partnership with HE and FE education providers regionally and nationally.

  • Coventry University will lead on a £375,000 project in partnership with Staffordshire University, Birmingham City University, 6th Form College Solihull, CU Coventry (formerly known as Coventry University College), University of Wolverhampton and Halesowen College on ‘Driver: Data Responsive Initiatives as a Vehicle for achieving Equity in Results’.
  • Just under £500,000 has been awarded to a project led by Kingston University to use a value added metric and an inclusive curriculum framework to address the BME attainment gap. Project partners are University of Wolverhampton, University of Hertfordshire, NESCOT FE College, De Montfort University, University of Greenwich and University College London.
  • Nottingham Trent University is leading on a project in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University and University of Bradford on scaling up active collaborative learning for student success. HEFCE has awarded just over £440,000 to the project.
  • The Open University will work in partnership with Plymouth University and the University of Leeds on a project to embed and sustain inclusive Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) practices. It will receive just over £480,000 in funding from HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund.
  • The University of Huddersfield is leading on the ‘Intervention for Success’ project with Coventry University, the University of Lincoln and Manchester Metropolitan University, which has been allocated more than £485,000.   
  • Almost half a million pounds have been awarded for a project led by the University of Portsmouth, in partnership with the University of the Arts London, Canterbury Christ Church, University of Brighton and the University of Winchester on ‘Changing Mindsets: reducing stereotype threat as a barrier to student success’.
  • UWE Bristol will also lead on a £490,000 project, in partnership with the University of York, Cardiff University, Student Minds and Universities UK, on implementing a strategic approach to mental wellbeing in higher education.

Alliance universities are also partners on the following projects:

Kingston University on a project led by the University of Southampton, with co-partner University of Surrey, to maximise student success through the development of self-regulation. HEFCE has allocated £499,999 to the project.

University of Portsmouth will join King’s College London as partners on a £500,000 project led by the University of Sheffield on the ‘Raising Awareness, Raising Aspiration’ project – a targeted personal tutoring support programme for narrowing student gaps in student achievement and ambition.

And just under £500,000 has been awarded to the Diversity and Inclusion Student Ambassador Programme. This project will be led by the University of Manchester, with Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Birmingham as partners.

Full details of the 17 projects can be found here.