Linking London NNCO Workshop: Helping Learners Make Informed Choices
Attendees had the opportunity to find out more about non-standard qualification progression support, sector specific websites and share examples of best practise. After an introduction and welcome from Emily Harber, NNCO Project Officer, Kiran Rami, Head of Guidance and Information Services at Uxbridge College, gave a presentation on supporting vocational learners through progression to HE; enabling them to make the right choices for their academic future.
Kiran stressed the importance of changing parental perception of vocational qualifications and suggested creating solid progression evidence for concerned parents, as well as providing a strong vocational presence at options evenings. More BTEC students from Uxbridge College gained places at Russell Group Institutions than their A-level counterparts for the first time this year. Kiran highlighted how the key to success for vocational students was often thorough research of appropriate courses for their skills – the earlier they start thinking about their applications, the easier the process will be. Further Education Colleges (FECs) need to be open to changing units to improve HE progression, and the benefits of cultivating a relationship with neighbouring Universities should not be underestimated. Personal Statements are crucial when applying to competitive courses – it is sometimes beneficial to invite Higher Education Institution (HEIs) staff to assist students drafting their statements.
Delegates then heard from Catherine Cameron and Helen Blencowe from Unistats, who provided an overview of the functions available on the website. Features highlighted included the advanced search and course comparison functions. Part-time and distance learning courses are listed provided they are referenced on the institution websites. The service was created with the intention of providing a standardised set of information to enable the comparison of HE provision. In 2017 Unistats hope to move from purely data service provision to high level guidance. Questions from delegates clarified that rather than moving to compete with other sites this evolution aims to be a partnership with HEIs. Evidence available on the site will be reflective of the whole UK. Delegates suggested the incorporation of entry requirements within the search function, and Level 2 English and Maths listings within the website.
Emily introduced the newly launched HECAIL (Higher Education College Advisers in London) website, which guides advisers through the learner journey as well as hosting an interactive map of providers. Feedback is encouraged from delegates as the site is further developed. Emily also outlined the Linking London NNCO Student Ambassador scheme, reminding attendees there is still time to get involved. The event ended with a group discussion and panel session featuring Sarah Tucker, SOAS, Kiran and Andrew Jones, Linking London. The group discussed issues such as the promotion of HEIs outside of the capital, entry barriers to Access Students, and the Widening Participation groups opting out of HE due to family circumstances. Andrew contextualised the discussion with the information that by 2020 it is predicted 68% of London jobs will require a level 4 qualification or above.
Presentations from the day: