London Met’s strategy for the successful delivery of our Access and Participation Plan (APP) places the focus of institutional activity on the development of holistic inclusive academic practice and the creation of enabling environments which support students to succeed.
97% of our students fall into one or more widening participation categories. The majority of our students come from the most socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, the majority are Black or minoritised and balance their studies with work and caring responsibilities. We describe our students as having complex lives and we are proud of their diversity and their high resilience overcoming multiple socio-economic barriers to reach higher education.
Informed by disaggregated intersectional data, and supported by research and sector best practice, our schools are challenging deficit based interventions of the past and replacing them with innovative, targeted pastoral and academic activities at pinch points across the student lifecycle. All of our strategic APP activities are co-designed and co-delivered by students.
Specialist support is delivered by experts within our professional service teams. Practitioners in Student Services, Careers and Employability, Work-Based Learning and in our library work in partnership with our schools to ensure support provision is embedded and aligned with the academic offer. We are committed to enhancing our practices so that our provision is anticipatory and inclusive by design rather than reactionary wherever possible. The pandemic has put additional pressure on our students’ wellbeing, their financial circumstances and worsened the outlook for the graduate labour market – we are responding to these challenges to ensure our students stay on track and are well prepared for their chosen graduate pathway.
We are strengthening our ethos in evidence-based practice, challenging our own decisions to ensure we foster an evaluative culture with a focus on continuous enhancement, the pursuit of impact and a “what works” philosophy. This approach is characterised by key principles and pillars.
Selected APP activities have been included in the delivery across the three key lifecycle stages of the student journey (access / success / progression) to assist students throughout their time at the institution.
There are six main cross-School APP activities to be implemented and rolled out across all of our academic schools as these have been identified as being most impactful on our stated continuation and completion targets for the target student groups.
These initiatives are designed with the above principals in mind and to provide academic and social engagement opportunities to students on all academic levels by connecting with their peers, a range of staff members and colleagues from our professional service departments.
The initiatives further seek to enhance engagement opportunities for students but also their learning and student experience. In order to drive this development, we will evaluate the impact of initiatives to improve decision-making and enhance our evidence-based practice. For example, previous evaluations conducted about the PASS scheme, Academic Writing support and/or Passport initiative suggest positive outcomes and indicate a range of benefits perceived by students who are engaged with the offering. Other initiatives are still being rolled out but monitoring and evaluation principles are embedded in the implementation.
Our six main initiatives
Students are being employed to undertake action research based on the results of the annual Student Experience Survey (SES) and/or focus groups with a particular focus on improving the experience of BAME male and female students on their courses in a "live" manner with a view to improving the continuation rates of students.
Students can benefit from a range of academic writing, language and study skills activities co-delivered by academic mentors, teaching staff and success coaches. This will support specific academic and study skill development of students and is important to help them succeed within their discipline.
Current students and alumni will be recruited and can get involved in organising and co-creating employment activities, such as workshops or events featuring inspirational speakers and role models representing industry professionals. This is aimed at helping students to develop professional networks and utilise employment opportunities.
The PASS scheme provides invaluable peer-led, course embedded support to students with success coaches (current Level 5 and 6 students) acting as mentors and role models. Success coach support and sessions are designed to support the creation of peer-to-peer connections, motivation to study and student networks.
A range of workshops, learning material and resources are being co-developed by academic mentors with students with a focus to support students particularly when transitioning in between academic levels and to boost academic performance throughout these critical stages.
The citizenship programme will feed into broader University initiatives such as London Met Lab: Empowering London through engagement and recognition of extra-curricular activity. This will enhance participation and motivation for students, building their sense of belonging and motivation and enhancing their wellbeing.