Collaborating to support members with the new APP regime

Collaboratively responding to the emerging needs of our 13 member institutions is one of Go Higher West Yorkshire’s (GHWY) key strategic aims. A perfect example of this in practice is a series of webinars we recently ran to support with the new Access and Participation Plan (APP) regime that is being brought in by the Office for Students (OfS). 

GHWY set about organising the three webinars after receiving positive feedback when our APP Wave 1 representatives kindly volunteered their experiences in the May meeting of the Access and Participation Strategy Group and our June GHWY Board meeting. It was clear from these discussions and the contact I received afterwards from attendees how much this was valued.  

As usual for GHWY’s collaborative approach, it was a team effort to develop these presentations into webinars. Colleagues from Leeds Arts University offered to host a meeting of APP contacts in the new academic year, which got the ball rolling with bringing people together.  

After the Board meeting, our University of Huddersfield Chair, Jane Owen-Lynch, suggested what became the first in a series of member-led webinars. GHWY’s two Wave 1 institutions – the University of Leeds, and Leeds Trinity University – also then volunteered to cover key aspects of the new APP process. The webinars covered: 

  • Navigating, matching and sifting the OfS APP data dashboard and Equality of Opportunity Risk Register 
  • Evaluation for APPs
  • Whole institution approach and student consultation 

The webinars have really shown the benefit of taking a local approach. Open exclusively to staff from within GHWY members, the small, closed groups have fostered trust and sharing between attendees. They have embodied the spirit of collaboration and of sharing good practice in West Yorkshire to help our region shine.  

The reach of the webinars across our members shows they have been valued: of the ten GHWY members eligible to attend (those with an APP who are not in Wave 1), all sent at least one representative to an event, with nine being involved in at least two of the three events. Their value was also demonstrated by the feedback they received, with one attendee commenting that it the most useful theory of change talk they had attended, and others thanking the presenters for their transparency and openness. 

I’ve personally enjoyed attending the sessions, which is testament to the engaging styles of our presenters. I’ve also learned more about different ways to dig deeper into datasets and using the APP dashboard, about understanding the different elements of a theory of change, and about supporting student engagement in the APP process.  

The discussions have led to further opportunities for a GHWY collaborative approach being identified:  

  • All institutions will be invited to have representatives join an evaluation-focused working group, led by Leeds Trinity University 
  • I will be exploring with member institutions ways in which GHWY could help with hosting and delivering training for students to enable their contribution to institutional APPs. 

Both are yet more examples of challenges being faced by all GHWY members, which we would benefit from looking at together. 

I would like to again thank our presenters for being so generous with their time, expertise and experiences. The webinars are part of an ongoing conversation with members about APPs and I look forward to continuing the work with you over the coming year. 


 Helen Sykes, Head of GHWY