Go Higher West Yorkshire (formerly known as HEART) has moved to www.gohigherwestyorks.ac.uk

Tel. 0113 343 3503

Email. heart@leeds.ac.uk

A one day conference for HE professionals to share best practice about how to efficiently support Widening Participation students during their time in HE and after graduation.

Tuesday 27th September
9:30am – 2:45pm
The Tetley, Leeds

Book Tickets Here 

Contributor Biographies.

Professor Jacqueline Stevenson EdD, MPhil, PhD
Head of Research in the Sheffield Institute of Education, Sheffield Hallam University.
Professor Jacqueline Stevenson is Professor of Education Research and Head of Research in the Sheffield Institute of Education, Sheffield Hallam University. She is a sociologist of education with a particular interest in policy and practice relating to equity and diversity in higher education, widening participation, access and student success, pedagogic diversity and the stratification and marketisation of higher education. Key areas of interest are the social and academic experiences of religious students, the access, retention and success of refugees in higher education, and Black and Minority ethnic students’ degree attainment and success

Dr Marc Fabri
Senior Lecturer, School of Computing, Creative Technologies & Engineering, Leeds Beckett University 

Marc Fabri is a Senior Lecturer at Leeds Beckett University and academic lead for the Autism&Uni project, a multi-national research initiative that aims to widen access to higher education for students on the autism spectrum. Autism&Uni was funded by the European Commission. For information visit www.autism-uni.org.

Inder Hunjan MBE
Head of Access and Widening Participation, Leeds Beckett University 

Kate Dean
Head of the Disability Assessment Centre at Leeds Beckett University
Kate Dean is Head of the Disability Assessment Centre at Leeds Beckett University. The Centre has recently been involved in a joint project with the National Autistic Society to improve communication and provision for autistic students at Leeds Beckett.

Debbie Rolls
Course Tutor Foundation Degree in Supporting and Managing Learning in Education, Bradford College
Debbie Rolls runs a foundation degree for support staff in schools where the vast majority of whom could be regarded as WP students (most are from working class backgrounds but they are also often mature students without formal qualifications, ethnic minorities, students with disabilities, LBGT students). One of the issues that Debbie Rolls has tried to tackle is the need to expand the horizons of WP students in order to show them that they can achieve and that they do not have to remain in historical patterns of employment or habitation.

Joanne Tyssen
Higher Education Business Development Manager, Leeds City College.

Joanne Tyssen is the Higher Education Business Development Manager at Leeds City College. She is about to start her final year Professional Doctorate of Education at Leeds Beckett University, previously receiving her Masters of Science in Sport and Exercise Science from here. Her research interests include student recruitment, student experience, student engagement, and student retention.

Ruth Lefever
Student Experience Manager, University of Bradford
Ruth Lefever is the Student Experience Manager at the University of Bradford and has worked in Higher Education for over 10 years.  She has undertaken research and activity that includes the first year experience, student retention, welfare and support, student representation, widening participation and student resilience.  Ruth’s current work at Bradford continues to focus on the student experience and includes student engagement, supporting transitions into university and peer support, as well as obtaining and analysing student feedback and developing student experience policy. She has worked extensively with students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds and is keen to establish and foster working partnerships.  Her particular interests include qualitative research, student peer community building, notions of belonging, mature students and gender issues.

Usman Ahmed
Student Experience & Success Intern, University of Bradford
Usman Ahmed is the Student Experience & Success Intern and a graduate of the University of Bradford.  He has been involved in supporting the Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme at the institution, helping its growth over the last 18 months, particularly in terms of embedding employability into the scheme.  During his internship he has also been involved in conducting research exploring mature student transition, as well as the impact of the PAL scheme on students. The Student Experience and Success Team at the University of Bradford aims to understand, support and enhance the student experience – which includes striving to enable the engagement, development and success of all of our students.  One of the main focuses of the team is to establish engagement and transition opportunities that support learning for our students.

Janet Smith Harrison
STEM Programme Manager University of Bradford

Sarah Hearfield,
Postgraduate Student Support Officer and Plus Programme Coordinator, University of Leeds
Sarah Hearfield, Postgraduate Student Support Officer and Plus Programme Coordinator. Sarah has several years’ worth of experience in widening participation and has worked in FE and HE since 2009, having pursued a change in career and making the move from law to education.
Sarah is responsible for developing the Plus Programme and the support that the University of Leeds offers to our widening participation students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Having completed the CDI accredited Postgraduate Diploma in Guidance in 2015, Sarah has a keen interest in Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance and enjoys the opportunity to help ensure that students from all backgrounds achieve their potential in higher education and beyond’.

Clare Hagerup
Director of Higher Education, University Centre at Wakefield College
A graduate of the College of Estate Management and Exeter University, Clare Hagerup has been in post at Wakefield College since September 2014, having previously worked in College Based Higher Education in North East Lincolnshire.  Wakefield College is reportedly one of the largest cities in the country without a University presence, and being the Director of Higher Education within the main provider of higher education provision in the city presents exciting challenges and a breadth of opportunity.  Clare’s specific areas of research interest relate to Sustainability and Education for Sustainable Development.

Programme Timetable 

Time Session
09:30 – 10:00 Registration and refreshments
10:00 – 10:05 Welcome and housekeeping
10:05 – 10:15 Keynote Inder Hunjan MBE
10:15 – 11:15 Morning Workshop: Professor Jacqueline Stevenson

Ethnic inequalities in UK higher education: implications for access, retention and success.
Black and minority ethnic (BME) students are present in greater numbers than their white peers in UK higher education. They are not, however, evenly represented across the sector; rather there is substantial underrepresentation, particularly of Black students, in the older, research intensive universities, whilst all BME groups are overrepresented in the newer, teaching focussed ones. Across all ethnic groups, except Chinese, BME students also have lower retention rates and all BME groups will leave with significantly worse degrees than their white peers. In this presentation I will highlight sector-wide inequalities in relation to access, retention and success, with a particular focus on the degree attainment gap. I will also draw attention to where, how, and with what success, HE institutions are working to address these inequalities as well as what further action can be taken. In the second part of the session participants will share the approaches they are currently taking, or that they could take, which might enable greater equality at different points across the student life-course. 

11:15 – 11:45 Parallel Session 1

Ruth Lefever and Usman Ahmed
Understanding the value of a pre-arrival summer school for mature studentsThis session will explore the University of Bradford’s ‘trans:it summer school’ for supporting the transition of new mature undergraduate students into university, including findings from a recent research project into its value.Evidence from the sector often highlights the importance of student engagement and successful transition, however, it is less clear how particular support opportunities affect the individuals themselves that are involved.  We have therefore strived to capture and understand the value of participating in the summer school from the student perspective and also to establish what further support could be of benefit to mature students.  Participants will be provided with an overview of the summer school and the research and have the opportunity to share their own institutional activity and ideas for supporting mature students.

Parallel Session 2

Sarah Hearfield
University of Leeds Plus Programme: on-course support scheme for widening participation students
Attending this 30 minute workshop on the Plus Programme will give you the opportunity to hear about the University of Leeds on-course support programme for widening participation students. Established in 2014/15, the Plus Programme provides bespoke support to Undergraduate and Postgraduate students who enter the University through recognised widening participation routes. The workshop will highlight the types of activities we offer at each stage of the student life cycle, an overview of our tailored evaluation process (which helps to ensure that we are meeting our students’ needs) and explains how we work collaboratively with internal and external partners.





11:45 – 12:30





12:30 – 13:30



Afternoon Workshop: Dr Marc Fabri and Kate Dean

Helping autistic students with the transition into higher education

With a 20% year-on-year increase in the number of students with an autism diagnosis, it is important that staff are aware of the condition and how best to support autistic students. In this workshop you will explore how small adjustments to your daily practice can make a big difference to students.

Parallel Session 3

Clare Hagerup

Student Support Hours: a pilot

This session will explore the introduction of Student Support Hours to validated higher education provision at Wakefield College in the 2015/16 academic year.  It will outline the rationale behind their introduction, how they were utilised, and what the future holds in terms of their continuation.

Parallel Session 4

Jo Tyssen

The retention puzzle: challenging dominant discourse and practice

This session will focus on reviewing dominant discourse, policy and practice surrounding widening participation and retention. It introduces the idea of students as knowledge-producers to increasing understanding of (non)continuation, from the perspective of the student.


13:30 – 13:45



13:45 – 14:15 Parallel Session 5

Debbie Rolls

Widening horizons
– a tool for widening participation

– how we can encourage students to look beyond their personal environment.

Sharing diverse work and personal experiences Using WP students as advisors to students with less rich experiences Participating in and planning educational visits Studying the education systems of other countries Undertaking Erasmus trips (the degree was rewritten to specifically allow for a 5 month Erasmus trip – so far 5 students have been to Spain, other students have been on two week teaching placements in Spain) Getting students to visit other workplaces Developing ‘vision’ and the ability to criticise practice


Parallel Session 6

Janet Smith-HarrisonProgression


14:15 – 14:45


Lessons learned and evaluation

Heart Partners