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Project tackling barriers to Higher Education receives £500,000 funding boost

A pioneering new project which seeks to tackle potential barriers faced by students with vocational qualifications when they enter higher education, has received a significant funding boost.

Academics from Loughborough University’s Mathematics Education Centre (MEC), School of Business and Economics (SBE) and School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (SSEHS) are partners on the “Transforming Transitions” study, which has received £500,000 funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The project will examine and challenge potential barriers experienced by students with BTEC qualifications as they apply for, and then enter, higher education. The crucial project aims not only to address the gap between the number of students taking solely BTEC qualifications and those moving into Higher Education, but also identifying ways in which to smooth and aid their transition once they enter university.

The project will be conducted over the next two years in partnership with the University of Exeter (project lead), Birmingham University and Queen Mary, University of London. It will also involve Exeter College, Leicester College, Hereford Sixth Form College, City and Islington College.

Professor Carol Robinson from the MEC will be leading Loughborough’s involvement in the study, with colleagues Dr Keith Pond (SBE) and Dr Chris Spray (SSEHS). She said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this funding. The number of students studying for BTEC qualifications continues to grow and this project will enable us to better understand and develop mechanisms to support all our students, to ensure they achieve their best.”

Professor Debra Myhill, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean for the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at Exeter added: “We are very excited about this award because it will help us to understand better the transition from school or college to university, and enable us to ensure a successful student experience for all our students, regardless of their background.”

The project is one of 17 nationwide, involving 64 universities and colleges, to receive funding from HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund, which seeks to address differences in outcomes for various student groups.

The projects will particularly benefit those student groups affected by differential outcomes highlighted in previous HEFCE research, including black and minority ethnic students, students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, disabled students (including those presenting with mental health issues and specific learning difficulties), mature students and part-time students.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 17/38

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Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world to study sports-related subjects in the 2017 QS World University Rankings and top in the country for its student experience in the 2016 THE Student Experience Survey.

Loughborough was ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2017 and 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2017 and was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017. 

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.

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