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The Access Podcast

The Access Podcast

A SOAS-FACE podcast designed to bring together practitioners and policy makers to discuss the big issues of the day in relation to access, participation, success and social mobility.
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4. Being A Civic University

The Access Podcast

8. Talking to Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, NUS President for HE
In Episode 8 of the Access Podcast, I have a conversation with NUS outgoing President for Higher Education, Hillary Gyebi-Ababio. Hillary studied Social Policy at the University of Bristol, where she later served as the Bristol Student Union Undergraduate Education Officer. Hillary's insight about student engagement in digital and non-digital spaces will be useful to HE professionals everywhere. She speaks eloquently about student agency and autonomy in regard to co-creation and belonging. She also recommends a long term vision, that is willing to try new approaches and use culturally sensitive language when communicating with students, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds. It would be great to have your comments via email, twitter or Spotify. We look forward to hearing from you, Renata Albuquerque (presenter and researcher) Simon Tullett (editor and sound designer) @theaccesspod 00:57 – Welcome 02:08 – Highlights at NUS 04:36 – Student Success Activities 08:36 – The Digital Space: Invisibly Inclusive 17:08 – Managing Status Inequality in Academia 18:52 – You Can’t Shake Off a Background 22:28 – Ibz Mo’s Suggestion 28:30 – Culturally Competent Language 34:01 – Student Led Initiatives – Overcoming Barriers 47:38 – Appreciation
June 30, 2022
7. Discussing mental health at universities with Prof Ross Renton
In Episode 7 of the Access Podcast, we discuss student and staff mental health with Prof Ross Renton, the Principal of ARU Peterborough Principal of ARU Peterborough and former Senior Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Worcester where he championed a strategic approach to mental health care. During our conversion, Ross suggests a number of useful initiatives and strategies that universities can adopt to maximise support for its community and address some of the challenges experienced in institutions. Ross also recommends Sharon Mallon and Jo Smith book Preventing and Responding to Student Suicide.
June 01, 2022
6. Interviewing John Blake, Director of the Office for Students
The Office for Students has asked universities to do more to raise attainment at schools and to reduce the awarding gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students. In this episode of the Access Podcast, we discuss what this means with John Blake, Director of the Office for Students. Though not conclusive, the interview provides significant insight into the OfS' expectations for access work. What is still missing are the details but judge for yourself and don't forget to leave us your comments or tag us on Twitter @theaccesspod
April 28, 2022
5. TASO and Evaluating Access and Participation in Post-16 Education
In our fifth episode we speak to Dr Omar Khan, Directors of the Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education, or TASO as it is more commonly known. TASo is an independent charity TASO is committed to the generation, synthesis and dissemination of high-quality evidence about effective practice in widening participation and student outcomes. Among other things, I asked Dr Khan about the potential impact of minimum entry requirements on evaluating pre-entry activities by whether or not it leads to progression to HE. We also discussed the Office for Students new emphasis on outreach activities that support increased attainment, the fact that we have done this before and that perhaps we need a new set of evaluation criteria if we are to truly capture the impact of those interventions. Please consider letting us know your views by answering the poll on Spotify and/or writing to us on We would also like to know if you have any questions for John Blacke, Director of the Office for Students, with whom we will be speaking very shortly.
March 30, 2022
4. Being A Civic University
In 2019, The UPP Foundation launched the Civic University Commission to examine the economic, social, environmental, and cultural role universities play in the towns and cities they are a part of. While it found many examples of civic activity it also concluded that there was a need for a more strategic approach, if universities were to fulfil their role as “anchor institutions” and their civic responsibilities in line with the needs of their local area. The Civic University Network was then set up to promote and share good practice, with a focus on supporting universities to produce a Civic University Agreement in partnership with local governments and other institutions based in the communities they serve. For access and participation professionals, the connections between our work and the civic university movement became more centre stage when John Blake, the new Director of the Office for Students, highlighted universities civic responsibility to support raised attainment among underrepresented groups. In this episode we speak to Greg Burke, Director of Place and Civic Engagement at Sheffield Hallam University about some of the challenges in developing a Civic University Agreement, the tensions between a focus on place and universities’ global outlook, the different environments universities operate in, John Blake’s statement and peer review as a model for independent evaluation. We hope you will find it informative. We would love to receive your feedback at or on Spotify and/or Apple Podcasts. Best wishes, Renata Albuquerque - presenter Simon Tullett - editor
March 08, 2022
3. Higher Education and Social Mobility - The What, How and Why?
In late November 2021, the Institute of Fiscal Studies published a report ranking universities in terms of their contributions to social mobility. It is the first time the IFS conducts such a study and there are no plans in place to repeat it yet. The report follows in the footsteps of other similar endeavours to address how universities are assessed and the short-comings of existing university league tables, which have been found to contribute towards the inequality of access evident among highly selective and other universities. In this third episode of the Access podcast, I discuss the role of rankings in promoting social mobility; the criteria used to evaluate social mobility, and the wider social and educational context impacting or possibly informing social mobility in the UK with Professor Deborah Johnston, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) at London Southbank University and member of the Disabled Students’ Commission, an independent and strategic group that advises, informs and influences higher education providers to improve support for disabled students set up by the Office for Students. My colleague Simon has also conducted a number of vox pops with university students to ascertain their views on higher education's potential to drive social mobility in the UK. We hope you will find it informative and stimulating. Please leave us a comment, a like or a recommendation by using the tools available at Spotify and iTunes.
February 02, 2022
2. Spotlight on The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill
This second episode of the Access Podcast focus on the” Skills and post-16 Education Bill”, which was introduced to Parliament in May 2021. The Bill comes as new figures show that further and technical education provision boost the economy by £26 billion. According to a report by the Social Mobility Commission, twice the number of disadvantaged 16 to 18-year-olds are in further education than in school sixth forms. The Bill is now at committee stage in the House of Commons.The proposed abolition of technical qualifications has been delayed for a year, with reassurances that many, if not all, BTecs are likely to continue after an outcry from the sector and strong interventions at the House of Lords. In this episode of the Access Podcast, we speak to John Butcher, Professor of Inclusive Teaching in Higher Education and Director Access, Open and Cross-curricular Innovation at the Open University (02:51) Dr John Baldwin has 45 years experience in FE, initially as a lecturer, then head of department and later as a senior manager including a responsibility for higher education in the college (29:13) Robin Webber-Jones - Head of Apprenticeships at the University of Derby (55:08) We hope you will find the discussions informative and, the different speakers’ perspectives, enriching.
November 30, 2021
1. Tracking Data in Widening Participation
Following research it commissioned in 2019, the Office for Students is considering the benefits of a centralised database to link and report on the outcomes of participants in outreach activities. In this episode, we speak to representatives of two tracking databases (HEAT & EMWPREP) as well as the Office for Students to understand the context and implications of this recommendation.
October 26, 2021