Linking London | News | 27 January 2022: Event Summary - Linking London Improving Access to HE for White Working-Class Students Event

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Linking London Improving Access to HE for White Working-Class Students Event

On the 27th January, Linking London held its second event focussing on improving access to HE for white working-class students and exploring both why are working class students less likely to consider progressing onto HE and why little progress has been made, as well as what can be done to address this.

Attendees first heard from Dr Alex Blower at Arts University Bournemouth, who set the scene reflecting on his own educational experiences and negotiations surrounding social mobility and discussed what the barriers are and why is it that white working-class students feel like they don’t have access to university drawing on his research in this area. Alex with input from the group discussed the common assumptions about students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in HE such as financial barriers, disinterest and lack of career aspirations. Alex included thoughts from his doctoral research, reflections and gave some examples of doing things differently in WP and what they do as an institution at AUB such as an ‘out of classroom first’ approach and partnership work with organisations that can help support specific groups. Alex lastly outlined AUB’s latest project ‘Being a Boy’ focussing on improving young men’s attainment and educational progression, in collaboration with a range of stakeholders, utilising a range of approaches including the use of creative arts. Attendees then had a chance to ask any questions. 

We then heard from Victoria Edwards from Royal Central School for Speech and Drama on their East Midlands Project which works with white working-class students in the East Midlands and spoke about their approach to their outreach projects highlighting the importance of student engagement, representation and student support. Following this we heard from Sophia Mousoulides from University of East London on their work in this area including their approach of partnering with schools, targeting unrepresented students, how they adapted their engagement during the pandemic and their next steps. 

After a short comfort break, we then welcomed two student panellists from Brunel University to talk about their experiences as a white working-class student who have made the transition onto Higher Education and the challenges they faced. Questions were around suggestions they would make to encourage others to go to university, importance of role models and support from parents. 


After a comfort break, attendees got together in three breakout groups to discuss what are the key elements of an effective programme of support to help ensure more students progress on to higher level learning in all its forms and what action we can take forward collaboratively as a partnership going forward. 

You can find the full write up of the discussion groups along with presentations on our Partners’ Area. 

The event closed with thanking everyone for their contributions throughout the afternoon. 

Presentations, recording and discussion notes 

To view the recording, presentations and the notes from the day please click here. This link will take you to the Linking London SharePoint Partners' Area. You must be a Linking London member to access this section of the website. If you do not have access, please email  






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