The ‘Access and Participation Plan Evaluation Project’ (APPEP) has been evaluating the University of Lincoln’s Access and Participation Plan since 2017. Access and Participation Plans demonstrate how Higher Education institutions aim to improve access, progression and success for under-represented individuals and/or students who identify with specified characteristics of disadvantage.
All plans are monitored by the Office for Students (OfS), the independent regulator of Higher Education in England, to make sure that providers honour the commitments they make to students. In detail, the APPEP team works with colleagues across the university to evaluate Access and Participation Plan interventions and their impact utilising the Lincoln Impact Evaluation Framework (LIEF), employing as wide a range of research methodologies as required.
The APPEP team also consult with students on an on-going basis in relation to the APP to explore institutional support and interventions for students from under-represented groups. They recently published three reports detailing the experiences of under-represented groups of students during the COVID-19 pandemic at the University of Lincoln, available here.
The team were recently awarded funding from the SMaRteN network (working with Amy Zile from the University of East Anglia) for their research project ‘Who Cares?: Identifying, understanding and supporting the work-life balance of students with caring responsibilities’. This cross-disciplinary, mixed-methods project aims to enable students with caring responsibilities (SCRs) to develop the evidence base about their wellbeing and student experience, improve understanding of the university journey and the challenges of achieving work-life balance particularly for minority ethnic and mature students and identify practical ways for universities to improve their support for SCRs.
The APPEP team set up a Widening Participation Community of Practice (WP CoP) of colleagues working in this important area at the University of Lincoln in 2019. The Community of Practice is a helping community which connects members, so they feel able to ask for help and to learn from each other. CoP sessions provide an opportunity for members to share their expertise and are bound by a common purpose and passion – supporting potential entrants from under-represented groups to access HE, do well and have the best experience possible and realise the benefits of HE in their future lives. Colleagues come together to share good practice, have guided discussions, create action plans and plan future projects. The CoP is formally incorporated into the APP project governance structure to ensure the group has a voice to influence decision making, and that decisions and discussions made by senior committees are communicated to and embedded in grass-roots practices. The CoP is facilitated by Rachel and Rebecca with Jacqueline Mayer, Head of Student Services.