Event details

Reframing adult education in the wake of Brexit

Thursday, 22 June 2017


A joint Post-Compulsory and Lifelong Learning and Access and Widening Participation Network Event 

The need for the UK to upskill, reskill and retrain its adult population has never been more pressing than in the aftermath of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.This seminar will hear presentations from academics across the Higher Education sector in the UK including from college-based higher education and alternative providers, exploring the challenges that this turbulent environment presents for adult learners and providers of adult education.  Delegates will engage with the material through hands-on activity in identifying approaches to attracting adult learners in HE and applying tools and techniques to assist the evaluation of their impact. 
 
 
John Butcher, Associate Director and Wendy Fowle, Senior Manager, Research and Evaluation, Learning and Teaching Innovation Portfolio, The Open University
Evaluation of initiatives to support individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds into HE has predominantly focussed upon young (18-21 year old) students.  This approach overlooks the adult learner environment and the challenges in evaluating outreach for this group, who do not necessarily follow the linear pathway to degree completion as evident for younger students.  The decline in the number of part-time students, who are often mature (Butcher, 2015) suggests that there is a need to refocus attention on adult learners and explore approaches to outreach and the challenges in evaluating its impact. Dr John Butcher will explore these issues drawing upon five case studies that have been developed through a collaborative research project, funded by the Office for Fair Access (OfFA).
 
John Widdowson, Principal New College Durham, Chair Mixed Economy Group of Colleges 
 Much of the academic work around widening participation in Higher Education has centred on the need to secure better and wider participation from groups underrepresented in entry to full time courses. Recent HEFCE initiatives have continued this focus with the introduction of tightly targeted Outward Collaborative Projects aimed at young people under the age of eighteen. Whilst this work is of clear value and importance, it may have distracted attention and resources away from other equally worthy groups and individuals. Foremost amongst these are adult learners in their many forms and in particular those adults who chose at an earlier stage in their career to enter employment but subsequently undertake higher education qualifications. The development of Higher and Degree Apprenticeships is likely to increase learners of this type. However, reliable data on these learners can be difficult to find and yet they represent a key part of the Higher Education landscape. This session will draw on work undertaken by the Mixed Economy Group of Colleges and others to explore the particular needs and issues of these students and what more may need to be done to ensure that the contribution made to widening participation by these learners is recognised and supported.  
 
Michael Hill, Independent Consultant in HE 
GSM London, is an alternative provider of HE in London which is committed to widening access.  This presentation will explore the development of strategies for attracting adult learners to HE and how the institution is tackling issues around transition, including the use of a Foundation Year 0 programme. Michael will talk about how GSM London is developing its academic staff so that they are effective in planning, delivering and evaluating a curriculum which meets students’ aspirations and ambitions and within which students can engage. He will relate these approaches with his as an evaluator of the Paul Hamlyn/HEA funded What Works Part 2 programme.
 
 
Biographies  
 
John Butcher
John is Associate Director in the Learning Teaching and Innovation portfolio at the Open University. He is responsible for leading the OU Access Programme (three 30 credit cross-disciplinary preparatory modules), and oversight of the OU Open Programme, as well as the Access Observatory, which provides a focus for research and scholarship in Widening Participation. Recent outputs include the HEA report ‘Shoe-horned and side-lined’: challenges for part-time learners in the new HE landscape. He has also worked at the universities of Derby, Northampton and Falmouth.
 
John Widdowson
John Widdowson is Principal and Chief Executive of New College Durham. The College was graded “Outstanding” by Ofsted in 2009 and is the lead sponsor for two Academies in County Durham. The College offers a wide range of vocational, technical and professional courses, including apprenticeships. In 2011 the College became one of the first two colleges to be granted Foundation Degree Awarding Powers by the Privy Council. John is President of the Association of Colleges (AoC) and his term of office is for one year which commenced on 1 August 2015. He also Chairs the AoC NE Regional Committee, the AoC UK China VET Forum and the Mixed Economy Group of Colleges. John is currently a Director of the University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC). He has previously served on the Board of the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Association of Colleges. John has published papers and articles on a range of education subjects and has spoken regularly at national and international conferences, focussing in recent years on the challenges of widening participation in higher education and developing college based higher education.
 
Michael Hill
Michael has over 30 years’ experience of working in the adult, further and higher education sectors. His areas of interest include widening access, student retention and success, student engagement and institutional research. He works as an educational developer at GSM London and at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). He works as a consultant for Action on Access and is an Associate of Continuum, the centre for widening participation policy studies, University of East London. 

Network: Joint Network Events
Date(s): Thursday, 22 June 2017
Times: 12:15 - 16:00
Signup Deadline: Tuesday, 20 June 2017
Location: SRHE 73 Collier Street, London, N1 9BE
Lunch Provided: Yes
Spaces Left: Places available
Prices: Members: Free, Guests: £60.00
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