Last week, at City Students’ Union, we submitted our Student Submission to the Office for Students (OfS) on City’s Access and Participation Plan (APP).
What is an Access and Participation Plan?
The Access and Participation Plan documents City’s regulatory commitments to tackling student inequalities. It is their plan for how they are going to ensure all students are empowered to access City to study, progress and succeed whilst they are here and go onto a graduate level job or further study once they graduate. City provides regular updates on this work to the University regulator the OfS.
The Student Submission part of this is our chance to hold City to account on the commitments set out in their plan. It provides us with an opportunity to convey the student perspective to the OfS on how City is getting on. The Student Submission asks for commentary on where City is hitting and not hitting it’s targets to reduce inequalities. It also asks for feedback on the activities that the University is putting in place to support their work to hit these targets. We provided feedback on a variety of important areas such as bursaries, Mental Health Services, Disability Services, personal tutoring and CityCares.
We also provided feedback on how students should be more involved with delivering the APP activity, such as part time jobs and volunteer positions. This is in addition to more opportunities for students to provide regular feedback on the work is going on. The Student Submission also gave us a unique opportunity to comment on City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic to the OFS.
We sought student opinion to contribute towards the Student Submission through five focus groups with different groups of underrepresented students. The students involved were fantastic in conveying the student voice and providing suggestions on ways that City can further empower students.
From our submission these are the recommendations that we have passed to City to highlight the work that needs to be done to ensure they are meeting their targets and empowering all students.
Things we suggested to City...
- Interrogate where targets have narrowed dramatically to learn lessons to carry forward. Particular attention should be paid to the continuation gap target between disabled students and students with no known disability which reduced from 9% in 2017/2018 to 2% in 2018/19.
- Monitor the impact of changes to personal tutoring for 21/22, evaluate to ensure the standard of quality is consistent across all Schools. The focus during personal tutoring should be on academic support, wellbeing support and academic community.
- Work to introduce activity that builds students social capital and creates a sense of community particularly for BAME students and students with a disability.
- City and the Union to collaborate on the Union’s Student Communities work to ensure the research supports the APP targets around retention and progression. Consider the role APP funding could be used to support student communities.
- Review the criteria for all bursaries available to ensure the criteria are not exclusionary of students from underrepresented groups particularly students from an LPN.
- Consider the introduction of a postgraduate student only space to study.
- Introduce needs assessments for mature students during registration to ensure support is signposted and mitigations put in place to allow mature students to balance study with other commitments.
- Review the disclosure of disability procedure at City to ensure the number of students with a disability at City is accurate. Review progress alongside targets following this review.
- Review the accessibility of City’s VLE (Moodle) for students with a disability.
- City and the Union to work together to increase collaboration on the delivery of CityBuddies. This should enable CityBuddies to continue to utilise the success of online delivery for some underrepresented students to support students to continue their buddy partnership beyond Term 1.
Working with students
- Restart the APP Working Group to monitor the progress of City’s APP particularly in relation to working with students and ensure Union involvement across the entire academic year. Include Union staff representation on the working group in order to more closely align the work of the Union and City’s APP.
- Increase awareness amongst students about City’s APP activity and the Education and Student Strategy to highlight current and future efforts to reduce inequalities at City.
- Develop a mechanism to regularly consult students targeted by the APP on targets and activity related to City’s APP.
- Provide more paid student roles across Professional Services to incorporate students into the delivery of the APP.
- Ensure that student consultation takes place at regular intervals throughout the year to monitor City’s APP progress. This could be delivered through the introduction of a Student Advisory Panel.
- Develop the role of the EDI Reps as part of City’s APP work.
- Investigate the impact of individual and collective mitigations put in place in response to COVID-19 on each group of underrepresented students.
- Update the extenuating circumstances procedure that supports students from underrepresented groups where City has targets for continuation in terms of progression and attainment, whilst also maintaining academic integrity.
- Continue to make synchronous and asynchronous teaching available to access afterwards to support attainment.
The full City SU Student Submission can be found here.