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Our 2019 Access Conference and The Brian May Learner Awards

Wednesday, 26 June 2019
Our 2019 Access Conference and The Brian May Learner Awards

Wednesday 12th June was a day of celebration as learners, tutors, and invited guests congregated at the prestigious Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton to celebrate the achievement of our outstanding learners and the vital role of Access to HE in widening participation and releasing people’s potential.
The Conference was kicked off by Open College Network West Midlands CEO Chris Assheton, followed by Chair of Open College Network’s Board of Trustees, Chris Morecroft who spoke so eloquently and with such passion about the history, importance and value that Access to HE provision has played in transforming people’s lives for over 3 decades.

With the Conference theme of Recruit, Retain and Results, key note speaker Julie Mizon, Access Manager at QAA, provided delegates with a comprehensive overview of the key outcomes and national statistics arising from Access to HE provision across the country.  In particular, she advised the conference that 25% of Access students get a 1st class honours degree and 90% of Access students gain employment within 6 months.
Finishing off the morning session, Dr Andrew Cooper from University of Wolverhampton reinforced the success of the Access to HE Diploma by focussing on the achievement of the learners both on the course and later in Higher Education, and by how well prepared the Access to HE Diploma learners are for their future studies.  He told the conference that Access students were amongst the best he had ever taught!

During the afternoon delegates were treated to three highly engaging workshop/seminar sessions and also had the opportunity to discuss their current approaches to recruitment and retention, the use of online learning and how achievement data had been analysed.   Strategies to address these areas were discussed and further enhanced by the sharing of case studies from NSCG Stafford and South Devon College.  
The conference also included the annual Access to HE Learner Awards Ceremony.  This year, it was an honour to name the awards after our dear colleague Brian May who sadly passed away in November 2018. This was a fitting tribute as Brian was dedicated to Access to HE and the students who studied the Diplomas.  We were pleased to be joined by Brian’s daughters to assist in the presentation of the awards to ten learners awarded for Outstanding Academic Achievement or Outstanding Commitment to Study.  Each learner award winner received £600 from Open College Network to go towards their future studies. 
This year’s conference was a sell out and Open College Network would like to extend their thanks and gratitude to all the speakers and workshop supporters for their time and contributions.  Thank you also to Kic FM for their media coverage of the conference and the Molineux for the excellent hospitality. 
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