NEON Summit: Student’s Unions and Widening Access – Effective Partnerships
On Wednesday, two Diversity & Wellbeing Ambassadors, Iullia and Kavita, from Uni of Manchester and I went to the National Education Opportunities Network’s Summit (NEON) on “Student’s Unions and Widening Access – Effective Partnerships”.
The conference started with an introduction by Martin Webster, the Operations Manager of NEON. Amatey Doku, the Vice President of the National Union of Students then delivered a presentation on what needs to be done in respect to Widening Access. Whilst Widening Participation focuses on widening the access to Higher Education for BAME students and those from a low socio-economic background, Amatey highlighted the importance on ensuring progress of these students once they are in Higher Education.
We were then giving a collaborative case study by King’s College London which addresses both issues with different activities their students organise to promote diversity, equality and open doors for students who are disadvantaged.
We ambassadors then facilitated sessions on inclusive teaching and learning environments. In these sessions, we discussed whether different institutions have inclusive curricular and which ones place a high value on diversity. Students, Students’ Union Managers and Officers attended the sessions and shared their insights. The discussions were very insightful and diverse as we heard examples of universities which place a high value on diversity whilst there are other institutions with a need to improve inclusion. Attendees were also able to collect the ideas they heard from other institutions to feed it back to their universities. Working on these breakout sessions with the ambassadors from Uni of Manchester was a personal highlight for me as we had a lot to fun and could share our personal experiences with different people.
At the end of the conference, we contributed to ideas on how NEON and our Students’ Unions should move forward.
The conference left me thinking that summits like these should be more visible and accessible to students as students should know that there are different organisations which try to make Higher Education more accessible and diverse.
I also learnt that there is a general need to implement inclusive curricular and learning environments in all institutions to ensure success for BAME students and those with a low socio-economic background.
Diversity & Inclusion Ambassador from Manchester Metropolitan University.