Executive Education


16 Mar 2017

Project tackling barriers to HE receives £500,000 funding boost

Dr Keith Pond

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 who will be leading Loughborough’s involvement in the study, with colleagues Dr Keith Pond (SBE) and Dr Chris Spray (SSEHS), 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."

Dr Keith Pond, Senior Lecturer in Banking and Economics at the SBE, said:

"It is very rewarding to be part of a project that focuses on excellent teaching in Higher Education and that can showcase so many interventions that widen access to study.
"In the fast-changing world of HE and business, this project allows the spotlight to be put on non-traditional learning journeys to undergraduate study.  Being part of this HEFCE Catalyst project puts Loughborough University and the SBE at the forefront of being responsive to changes in our student base."

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.