Student Experience

Our Access and Participation Plan Project

Picture of 'University of Manchester' sign on the iconic Whitworth Hall university building on Oxford Road

What is the project?

The Office for Students requires all higher education providers to submit an Access and Participation Plan (APP), which aims to set out how the institution will improve equality of opportunity. The APP is a series of quantified aims with detail on the support and structures in place to achieve the set aim. Alongside this, some actions set out in Student Experience Actions Plans were raised to look more specifically at FSE in relation to supporting our diverse student population. This entails looking at where we stand at present in relation to APP aims, as well as exploring what needs to be done to achieve these aims.

To explore this, we initiated an FSE APP project to connect directly with students from the various APP categories, specialist support services and student societies to gather a better understanding of the barriers faced by each group, their experiences of existing support services and their recommendations in relation to what additional support is needed to progress our APP aims.

The APP flags that are a focus for the institution, as defined by the OfS, are:

  • Higher education participation, household income or socioeconomic status (WP)
  • BAME students
  • Mature students
  • Disabled students
  • Care leavers

What did we do?

The project was comprised of surveys going out to all students, and a series of focus groups. The surveys were designed to compare and contrast responses from different student groups, whilst the focus group sessions enabled us to delve deeper into the perceived barriers each APP flag identify and what support they believe is required to remove such barriers. Students participating in focus groups were given vouchers for their time and insight.

What happens next?

We have now completed our focus groups across all of the APP target groups, including using an external organisation to facilitate our groups with Black Heritage students. We are expecting to receive this report from Changemakers Ltd early June. With student feedback from our completed surveys and focus groups we are developing a series of action plans to be implemented. These action plans will be published via the Teaching College newsletter and webpages and will compliment the university APP which is due to be submitted to the Office for Students in May 2024.

If anyone is interested in learning more about this work, please feel free to contact with any questions.