Below are examples of governance approaches that providers identified as being effective in their 2019-20 access and participation plans which you may find helpful when developing your own approaches. Some of these approaches may not yet be fully evaluated.
We will update this page with more examples of effective practice as we identify them.
If you have, or are aware of, examples of effective practice in this area please contact [email protected].
Governing body review and training
Several plans describe how governing bodies have reviewed their access and participation arrangements to ensure they are fit for purpose.
Training has been provided on the new regulatory requirements, including on access and participation plans. This has enabled governors to assess:
- whether providers have a strong understanding of where there are gaps in access and participation across the whole student lifecycle, and their progress in closing these gaps over time
- whether providers have set aims, objectives and targets which are ambitious and relate to its assessment of performance
- whether providers have included evidence-based strategic measures in their plan that can achieve these ambitious targets
- whether student consultation mechanisms are meaningful and effectively acted upon
- whether a robust evaluation strategy is included in the plan.
Increasing understanding of access and participation data
Some providers have included governing bodies in internal training on access and participation data. This data underpins access and participation plans, and has helped governors to understand:
- the provider’s key gaps in access and participation performance across the whole student lifecycle
- the provider’s progress in closing these gaps over a five-year period
- the provider’s performance in relation to the rest of the English higher education sector.
The OfS produced a webinar on how to conduct an assessment of performance which may help to structure governing body training:
Effective governing body oversight
Some providers have worked in collaboration with governors to agree how the governing body oversees the plan, in line with the new regulatory requirements. This has helped to ensure that:
- plans for the governing body assessing and approving access and participation arrangements are streamlined
- plans for the governing body evaluating the provider’s compliance with their plan are robust
- plans for the governing body monitoring access and participation data are effective
- plans for the governing body assessing progress against the objectives, targets and commitments set out in the plan are clear.
These details have then been incorporated into the monitoring section of the providers’ access and participation plan.
Ensuring a whole provider approach
Some providers have particularly worked with governing bodies on refining their whole provider approach. Governing body support has been cited as essential in:
- articulating a clear organisation wide commitment to access and participation
- formulating an overall theory of change around provider access and participation work
- ensuring the whole student lifecycle (access, success and progression) has been considered
- ensuring access and participation work is aligned with relevant strategies such as learning and teaching, employability and student wellbeing.
In turn, this whole provider approach has helped shape and align the specific measures which will support underrepresented groups.
Establishing sub-committees with expertise in relation to access and participation
Some providers have established a sub-committee which provides scrutiny over access and participation plans and reports to the governing body on access and participation matters.
Interaction with these sub-committees has enabled governors to easily engage in this area, as they bring together expertise across the provider, and often include student representatives from underrepresented groups.
In providers where higher education is only part of the provision offered, some providers have found it effective to have a sub-committee focused on higher education matters, which include specific responsibility for access and participation.