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Q&A: Beyond Demographics Webinar – Your questions answered

Q. What do you think the key differences are in targeting WP students for PG level?
A: The key thing to remember is that when we speak about widening participation of students, we need to look at where they’re going not where they’ve come from. We have to move beyond demographics. They’re more than just the acronyms, they’re more than just being BAME students, they’re more than just students from disadvantaged backgrounds or low participation neighborhoods. They’ve got the same aspirations, dreams, and goals as all students.

Q. If the WP students don’t identify themselves as being WP students how can we get them to recognise opportunities targeted directly at them?
A: One size does not fit all and actually bucketing by these sorts of groups that we were talking about does risk alienating those individuals, so it really has to be a thoughtful approach to talking to the students and understanding them on a human level. We need to define the individuals by where they are going and not where they have come from. It’s a really important point, aspirational messaging for a better outcome in the end.

Q. Do you have insights on WP doing deferred entry/applying after school?
A: We have to help sell to the parents that they will get a good solid qualification or that there will be a good solid career after this, it’s just little things that the challenges that they face are similar to non-widening participation students. It’s just more in that nuance of how we tackle those challenges and how we talk about them can be quite different.

Q: If Universities wanted to do a broader research piece, is that something you can facilitate as well?
A: We absolutely can. We’re doing one at the minute for a university looking at helping them segment their widening participation students, so we’re using that exact methodology that I talked about before. Using clan to segment them, to understand what’s the makeup amongst their widening participation students, of the different segments, and then doing that exact thing that I said before of using qualitative interviewing to actually speak to the students and just dig into some of that nuance thing, what are your specific needs? how did you take this challenge that might be a consideration for all students, but as a black and minority ethnic student, as a student from a disadvantaged background, what impact did that have on you and what specific challenges did you face in your journey to higher education? But that is currently a live project at the minute that we’re right in the middle of.

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