Monday 27 January - Widening Participation
A key goal in the College Strategy is to ensure that our
strengths and achievements receive the international recognition that they
deserve. At the same time, that ambition should be complemented by a commitment
to attracting the brightest and best students, irrespective of wealth or
Our Access Agreement with OFFA (the Office of Fair Access)
is a formal agreement that outlines how we aim to increase participation and
success amongst students from groups typically under-represented at higher
education level. Setting out
institutional milestones helps guide the outreach activities undertaken in the
College, from events like our Science Open Day to Taster Days that allow young
people to experience what life is like at university.
In our most recent progress report to OFFA, we were able to
show that 42% of our full time undergraduate students are in receipt of
financial assistance to support them through their studies. This support,
offered through means-tested bursaries, is funded directly by the College at a
total value of over £2.7million.
Progress against our Access Agreement targets has been
excellent. Out of our five milestones,
we have exceeded our target in three and are on track to exceed in the other
two on or before the deadline agreed with OFFA.
Shortly, we will submit our Strategy for Access and Student
Success, which replaces Access Agreements from 2014/15. With rumours circulating in the media about
impending cuts to the grant we get from HEFCE to support our students (the Student
Opportunities Fund), this document will confirm and make clear our continued commitment
to widening participation and access.
If the rumours are true, it means we will have to work
harder to ensure able students are not deterred from applying to university in
general – and to us in particular – countering any negative publicity that
comes from government funding cuts.
Tuesday 21 January - Further Gains in Applications
In yesterday’s ezine message, I told you that our
undergraduate applications stood at 11,319, up 4.1% on the same point in the
2013 recruitment cycle.
Following the publication of the latest SNAPPs report, I am
pleased to tell you that undergraduate applications have more than trebled in
the week from Friday 10 January to Friday 17 January. Applications from Home
and EU students stand at 11,740, up 14.4%. Applications from Overseas students
stand at 2,376, up 3%. Total applications from both HEU and Overseas students
are up 12.3%
The last few weeks up until the UCAS deadline of Wednesday
15 January usually see a marked increase in the number of applications,
particularly in the final week. Early indications from UCAS data show that
applications across the sector are up by around 4.25%. As such, we are clearly
outperforming the sector average: ten departments have seen growth in
applications of more than 10%.
These statistics reflect the combined efforts of colleagues
across College in making Royal Holloway a leading destination for undergraduate
applicants. We now wait to see the impact of these activities on our
postgraduate applications, of which more later in the year.
Monday 20 January - Undergraduate Application Increase
The passing of the annual UCAS deadline for undergraduate applications
on Wednesday 15 January was a key point in the recruitment cycle. I am pleased to tell you that our latest data
show an increase in both the total number of undergraduate applications and the
number of offers made in comparison with this time last year. Total applications currently stand at 11,319,
up 4.1%, and we have made 7,617 offers, up 25.2%.
Having selected their institutions, we are now focusing on
inviting prospective students to find out more about the programme and
department they have applied at one of our Applicant Visit Days. We all, staff and students, have a role to
play during this phase of student recruitment by helping to make these prospective
students feel welcome during their time on campus. More information about
arrangements for Applicant Visit Days will be available on iQuad this week.
At the other end of the student lifecycle, this week sees
the launch of the National Student Survey (NSS). Now in its ninth year, the NSS
provides feedback on all aspects of the student experience and allows us to
benchmark our programmes and student educational support against that of our
competitors. We have improved in our overall student experience rating for the
past five years and aim to do the same in 2014. If you have contact with final year students,
please do encourage them to complete the survey via www.thestudentsurvey.com.
The education and support services we offer our students are
shaped by feedback from the NSS which in turn influences future generations of
students in their decision about where to study. It’s vital that we are open to
feedback and responsive to changes in the external environment and needs of our
students. Using this intelligence, we
will review and update our College Strategy to ensure we are fully engaging in
the process of improving the College for all; if you don’t yet have a copy of
our strategic plan, you can request one here.
Finally, as part of our response to past NSS results, we are
in the final stage of preparing designs for our new library, after which we
will be able to submit them for formal planning permission. More news on this subject later in the term.
Monday 13 January - Looking forward in 2014
I hope that you had an enjoyable Christmas break and have
returned to College refreshed for the start of a new term.
Last term, we paused to reflect on our achievements and
successes over the course of 2013. This year, we have equally important and
exciting events on the horizon.
We are already looking forward to the start of construction
on the new library development this summer, which will change the landscape of
campus by providing a modern counterpoint to the heritage of Founder’s.
Already, as part of our Curiosity Project fundraising campaign, 35 donors have
started paving the path that will link the two buildings through the Buy a
Also we await with great anticipation the outcome of the
Research Excellence Framework, due to be published in December. The outcome of
the REF will have a significant impact on our ability to attract both the
brightest students and a share of public funding over the coming years.
And in the short term there is much to look forward to as
well. The launch of the National Student Survey on January 20 enables our
students to tell us their views on their experience here at the College,
covering everything from the course they studied to the Students’ Union.
Needless to say, the feedback we receive will help us to identify what we do
well, and where we should seek to improve.
Last week we hosted BBC Stargazing Live, where 5,000 members
of the public, staff and students participated in an evening of astronomy
themed activities. And this term, we have several more high profile events
taking place, including the Science Festival in February, a week long programme
celebrating science and a key part of our outreach strategy.
As we strive toward success in our personal pursuits, I hope
that we will also unite under the strategic ambitions of the College: all that
you do individually contributes towards making Royal Holloway a dynamic,
inspirational place to study and work.
Happy New Year.