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Excellent Outcomes for All Students: A Whole System Approach to Widening Participation and Student Success in England


This article is about improving student retention and success to achieve excellent outcomes for all students. It draws on research undertaken by the author about student engagement and belonging; differential engagement and success, with a particular focus on commuter students, who experience intersectional disadvantage; and the development of a whole institution approach (WIA) to widening participation and student success. The research has been undertaken in England, and is situated within this policy context, in particular two national policy tools: Access and Participation Plans (APP) and the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF), which all higher education providers are required to engage with if they wish to charge fees above certain thresholds. The article demonstrates how in England both the policy framework and higher education institutions are working towards a system-wide approach to achieve excellent outcomes for all students, irrespective of their background or circumstances.

Published: 2020-03-03
Pages:1 to 11
Section:Invited Feature

Author Biography

Edge Hill University
United Kingdom United Kingdom

Liz Thomas is professor of higher education at Edge Hill University, and an independent higher education researcher and consultant. She has been researching widening participation and student success for over twenty years. Current work includes piloting interventions to improve students’ belonging and success, researching student retention and withdrawal in public sector professional education programmes, and research and institutional development to improve the engagement, experience and outcomes of commuter students. Liz is committed to using her research to improve student experiences and outcomes, and has organised and facilitated many change programmes for cross-institution teams, and is currently supporting a number of higher education institutions to develop their approach to improving the diversity and success of their students. Liz is a widening participation expert for the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework main panel, helping to ensure that the TEF processes and assessors take account of the experiences and realities of non-traditional students in judgements about teaching excellence.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795