Ulster University has a strong sense of civic purpose with values grounded in helping to advance society in Northern Ireland. In our 5-and-50 strategic plan (2016-2034) we have highlighted educational attainment and widening access as a key priority.
With campuses that are accessible across the region at Belfast/Jordanstown, Coleraine (North Coast) and Magee (Northwest) and an extensive network of validated provision across the FE sector of Northern Ireland, the University has a wide range of admissions, access pathways and financial packages to support those with difficult circumstances to overcome disadvantage and enter higher education,
Governance of widening access and participation at the University comes under the remit of the directorate of Access, Digital and Distributed Learning and the Fair Access, Participation and Student Success Sub-Committee. Together these bodies ensure that widening access and participation the University is centrally planned, is fair, monitored, evaluated and embedded.
The University’s contribution to widening access and participation for Northern Ireland is considerable. To achieve this the University works in partnership through schools and community outreach, to ensure that those who are the most able but least likely to participate, have fair opportunity to access and success in higher education.
Our aim is ultimately to improve participation in higher education.
The target groups by which we measure this for widening access and participation are defined by government in Access to Success. These are:
- Students from Quintile 1 as measured by national Multiple Deprivation Measure
- Young Males from Decile 1 as measured by national Multiple Deprivation Measure
- Students with a Declared Disability
- Students in receipt of Disability Support Allowance
- Adult Learners
- Care Leavers
- Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Groups
We approach these aims and targets through the following:
- Widening Access and Participation is an explicit KPI of the University
- WP Analytics for better tracking of participation, retention, progression, success and learning gain
- Retention and support interventions for enrolled WP students
- Outward mobility funding for the development and employability of enrolled WP students
- Outreach and support to schools and communities in WAP districts
- Research on young male participation and attainment
- Progression pathways