Social Responsibility

Access All Areas conference: The role of current students in access and widening participation activities

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 16:13:00 BST

Access All Areas is a volunteering area of the Students’ Union. Funded by the central Widening Participation Team, the group support student-led projects and events that tackle inequalities to education.

In 2016/17 the elected student committee made it their priority to “encourage more HEIs to work in partnership with their Students’ Union to develop and deliver student-led widening participation outreach programmes” and on the 16 March they held their first ever national conference.

The conference was held at Hulme Hall and comprised of 12 workshops led by universities, students’ unions and charities that promote student leadership in widening participation. The first key note of the day was delivered by the Access All Areas Student Chair (Memona Shahid), former staff coordinator (Marie Harman) and an NUS Policy officer (Sarah Kerton). Their address focussed on the background and establishment of Access All Areas and the progression of the group to the current day. The second address came from the NUS President Malia Bouattia and led with a personal account of entering the UK education system after fleeing war.

The day ended in a panel discussion with the Head of Widening Participation at Manchester, the current Diversity Officer from the Students’ Union, an experienced OfSTED inspector, the president of NUS Scotland and vice chair and volunteer of Access All Areas, Aisha Ahmed.

The day was attended by staff and student from 16 universities, 21 Students’ Unions, 7 charities and 2 colleges. Durig the day the NUS received a lot of social media attention via the hashtag #aaaconf.

An attendee from the day noted in feedback that: “I felt that the University of Manchester sets a gold standard in student leadership and ownership, with fantastic support staff”.

Feedback was very important to the committee as it clearly demonstrated that they have met their aims of encouraging similar models across the UK : “Lots of great things to think about, try to adopt or put in practice, definitely a useful event. Great work Manchester SU”.

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