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Supporting the success of Access and Participation Plans (APPs)

Student access, retention and success Our expertise crosses the full range of challenges and opportunities posed by implementing Access and Participation Plans, and we are able to bring this expertise together to provide a holistic picture of your access, participation and success strategy.

With the introduction of an approach to Access and Participation from the Office for Students in England, and increased regulation across the UK, Advance HE can support institutions to identify challenges and realise ambitions in their approach to supporting student access, participation and success for all students.

Advance HE can support your institution’s approach in the implementation of your APP plan and includes:

  • Putting your plan into practice
  • Tackling tricky issues
  • APP progress review
  • Skills development

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If you would like to know more about our support, complete the form by clicking the button below and we will send you an information sheet as well as links to further useful resources related to APPs.

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Our holistic approach

We bring expertise in responding to legislative, regulatory and cultural drivers around equity and experience, as well as working with a broad range of providers and disciplines. Our expertise crosses the full range of challenges and opportunities posed by implementing Access and Participation Plans, and we are able to bring this expertise together to provide a holistic picture of your access, participation and success strategy.

This diagram reflects how the strands of our work connect to create a successful strategy for access, participation and success.


APP strategy wheel

Why partner with Advance HE?

We are of and for the sector, and work with institutions in a way which is tailored to your context, challenges and culture. We bring your institution:

  • practical and research informed expertise: knowledge, research and analysis tackling challenges across the student lifecycle
  • a critical friend: guidance, support and challenge as a critical friend and sector expert
  • equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) specialists: extensive EDI expertise as leaders in challenging conversations, legal and policy regulatory requirements including safeguarding, interventions to support protected, marginalised and underrepresented groups
  • organisational development and leadership specialists: extensive organisational development, leadership and change expertise including working on holistic strategic change, policy into practice, integrated reporting and challenging strategy
  • teaching and learning specialists: extensive expertise supporting all aspects of student success and outcomes including inclusive learning and teaching, supporting staff reflection and development, employability, and access
  • holistic working: uniquely positioned to bring students, academics, leaders and professional practitioners together
  • cross-sector evidence: sharing sector-wide and international good practice, and our own in-house research.

Our support

We focus on working with you as a critical friend and informed partner to enhance and reflect on your approach to inclusion across the student lifecycle.

Below is an outline of the broad range of support we can offer, combined and tailored to your context. Our support includes:

APP services grid

Putting your plan into practice

There are a number of challenges associated with operationalising APPs to drive forward the necessary measures and change in your institution. Our offer, designed to fit your needs, includes:

  • understanding your context, challenges and ambitions
  • providing expert consultancy, either on-site or remotely, to support you to build a roadmap
  • make the required connections across your institutions to realise your plan.
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Tackling tricky issues

We can support institutions where the plan, or the process of operationalising the plan has unearthed a specific challenge: for example, indications that an action is not having the expected impact. Using our extensive experience both in the regulatory environment and in the areas of organisational development across EDI, leadership and staff development, our support would include:

  • working with you to identify the root of the challenge
  • providing guidance on best practice
  • conducting focus groups or facilitating challenging conversations
  • developing action plans
  • recommendations designed to support your context.
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APP progress review

It is important to take stock and review progress and challenges against your plan to ensure your strategy and investments are the right ones. We can:

  • review your activities to date and their impact
  • support you to pinpoint what has worked well
  • help you to identify areas of challenge and for further improvement
  • conclude with a reflective report to support you in your impact report submission and to make the necessary changes to practice to realise your ambition.
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Skills development

The production and implementation of APPs require specialist expertise including data collection, analysis and evaluation, and specific knowledge relation to inclusion and experience of diverse student groups. This is particularly challenging for institutions who may not have the resource, capacity or expertise in-house to conduct these activities. Our skills development offer may include:

  • specialist bespoke workshops centred around areas of priority
  • research and evaluation support from our team of expertise
  • interventions building on our sector-wide expertise and knowledge of what works in practice.
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Our expertise

Our team brings a range of experience to support different aspects of APP from policy knowledge and insights through to research team expertise. Our staff bring both significant experience of the practical and strategic challenges of the UK higher education sector, as well as understanding of the wider policy and regulatory landscape.

Team core capabilities include:

  • subject specialists on issues such as inclusion and success of specific groups (considering ‘race’, disability, gender, and intersectional approaches), including support for tackling ‘gaps’ in access, retention and awards
  • staff with significant expertise of supporting learning and teaching development, and working within widening access and participation
  • researchers in equity, experience and experts in impact evaluation and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data analysis
  • organisational development, leadership and governance specialists experienced at challenging leaders across our sector to develop and implement strategy, drive change and foster an environment inductive of success for all students 
  • staff with expertise in contextualising access and participation within wider sector contexts including with the TEF, Race Equality Charter, Athena SWAN, international and national recruitment, safeguarding and wellbeing.

We will work with you to ensure that we match your exact needs with the right expertise, knowledge and experience to address your challenges.

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