Universities Wales Weekly Wrap Up – 23 October 2015

New Universities Wales report launched

On Tuesday we launched our new report, The Economic Impact of Higher Education in Wales, at the National Assembly for Wales. The report demonstrates how Welsh universities are powering the economy in all parts of the nation. For more information, please see this separate news article.


Higher Education Academy (HEA) strategic enhancement programme for Wales.

Last Friday, HEA posted its announcement of the Transition, retention and attainment (TRA) strategic enhancement programme for higher education providers in Wales.

The HEA invites expressions of interest from higher education providers in Wales to participate in its programme commencing in December 2015. The programme forms a key element of the HEA’s learning and teaching strategy work 2015–16, and makes a wide range of resources and support available to institutions, departments and individuals, including enhancement frameworks, toolkits and continuing professional development opportunities. Participating institutions will receive HEA-facilitated support for enhancement initiatives that they are taking forward during 2015–16 that align to the programme’s key themes. Support will take the form of two network meetings tailored for each of the two programmes, plus bespoke support for each participating institution.

The programme’s key themes are: the student experience – developing a holistic approach to student support and retention through supported learning communities to enhance engagement and belonging; the curriculum – designing the curriculum to strengthen student engagement and promote retention; and using, sharing and developing data, including learning analytics, to support student retention.

Please forward the link (call for participation and expression of interest form) to potential project leads within your institution. The deadline for applications is noon on 6 November. Please direct any queries to

SPA Event: Qualification reform and HE admissions – 23 November 2015

Following SPA’s successful National Expert Think Tank (NETT) on qualification reform and the publication of SPA NETT resources on its website, it is running a conference in Leeds which will deliver expert opinion and practical advice to help you prepare your institution for the impact of qualification and curriculum reform in the UK. Participants will hear from members of the NETT and have the opportunity to network, share good practice and learn from colleagues. This will be a practitioner-led, interactive conference covering key issues including:

•           The nature and scale of the reforms
•           The key considerations for qualification reforms and HE admissions
•           What to think about when updating your prospectus and marketing materials
•           How staff and academics from across an institution can be involved in planning for the reforms

The event will be in Leeds on Monday 23 November and the cost is £100 plus VAT.

Further details and booking at:

You may also find it useful to see the NETT’s Guidance for school and college references – what HEPs would like to know.

SPA Event – Consumer Protection and the Applicant Experience – For Welsh universities – 2 December 2015

SPA is running this free event for senior staff and colleagues in admissions, planning, marketing, student recruitment, widening access and others in Welsh HE providers at the request of Universities Wales to cover approaches to consumer protection and the application experience from pre-application, to transition into the student experience.  The event will be held on Wednesday 2 December 2015 in the Council Chamber, Main Building, Cardiff University, Park Place, Cardiff.

There will be an outline of the main areas identified in the CMA’s advice to HE on consumer protection and Cardiff University will provide a case study on how senior staff, working with colleagues, addressed the issue of consumer protection compliance within the institution. We will have input from Eversheds law firm and the opportunity to ask questions and work in small groups to share issues and good practice.  Further information can be found here:-

SPA Use of contextualised admissions survey report 2015

Earlier in the year SPA issued a new survey to gain an understanding of how HE providers (HEPs) have taken up the use of contextualised admissions, and what data they use, or would like to use in the future. SPA received 68 complete or partial responses from around the UK. Of those responding 84% (57 HEPs) used contextualised admissions in undergraduate admissions for 2015 entry, with a further 6 planning or considering its use in future cycles.  In the previous survey in 2012 (although not directly comparable) of the 67 responses 37% said they were using some form of contextualised admissions, and 57% wanted to in the future.

The results act as a useful barometer for the nature and prevalence of contextualised admissions in the UK HE sector, and provide insight into some of the key limitations and barriers faced by HE providers. The survey report demonstrates that the use of contextualised factors in admissions (not just for admissions decision making) within HEPs continues to increase. It highlights there is more work for SPA to do in terms of raising awareness of the relevance of contextualised admissions and how and when it can be used in all types of providers in the sector. Indeed contextualised admissions continues to be one of SPA’s objectives in 2015-16.

For more detail see and the SPA Use of contextualised admissions survey report 2015.

Propel website – Who Cares? Trust

SPA attended the launch of the new Propel website last week and felt that it would be of interest to colleagues in admissions, student recruitment and widening access who work with or support care leavers through the applicant experience. This website from the Who Cares? Trust aims to help inspire more care-experienced young people into higher education.

Propel provides full information about each educational institution’s provision for care leavers, helping young people make an informed choice about the right course at the right institution for them. It will also help ensure that they access all the support to which they are entitled, reducing the numbers of care leavers who drop out.

If you are interested in this area please see SPA’s work on using admissions to bridge the gap for care leavers.  We are still looking for examples of good practice in admissions with regard to applicants who are care leavers. Please submit them at the online call for evidence submission or call 01242 544891.

HEFCW – website survey

HEFCW’s website is changing and they would appreciate feedback. Please take a couple of minutes to complete the online survey by Friday 6 November (responses are anonymous).