HEFCE Catalyst Fund double project success for Manchester Metropolitan

Manchester Metropolitan has secured a share of two major projects through the HEFCE Catalyst Fund – £7.5 million to tackle barriers to student success – Seventeen collaborative projects, involving 64 higher education providers, will receive up to £500,000 each from HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund over two years to address differences in student outcomes.

HEFCE research has exposed gaps in the higher education outcomes between different student groups. These gaps in attainment and progression to further study and employment persist even when background characteristics and prior attainment are taken into account. HEFCE has announced the launch of the ‘Addressing barriers to student success’ programme to tackle the causes of these disparities.

The projects will particularly benefit those student groups affected by differential outcomes highlighted in previous HEFCE research, including black and minority ethnic students, students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, disabled students (including those presenting with mental health issues and specific learning difficulties), mature students and part-time students.

The programme focuses on scaling up activities already proven to be successful in individual higher education providers, and will identify how good practice and interventions can be validated, replicated, transmitted and embedded across a wider range of providers. Projects will generate evidence across inclusive teaching and learning practices, employability, learning analytics, and wellbeing.

Robust evaluation is a critical aspect of the programme. Alongside individual project evaluations, an independent programme-wide evaluation team will review project outcomes and identify key learning from the programme.

In one project, Manchester Met is working with the Universities of Huddersfield, Lincoln and Coventry in a £485,000 project designed to ensure that students confronted by extra hurdles can get the most from their studies. The four universities in the partnership will each concentrate on different challenges faced by certain students to develop interventions that personal tutors can deploy to enable students to achieve the success they deserve.  The joint project across the partner institutions will focus on enhancing personal tutoring meetings using analytics data to inform conversations. To further support this dialogue, the University will develop an interactive diagnostic tool that tutors can offer to students to support the analysis of their specific learning needs.

Diversity and inclusion at the heart of new student outcomes project

In a second project, Manchester Met is working with the Universities of Manchester and Birmingham, and their respective Student Unions to develop a ‘Diversity and Inclusion Student Ambassador Programme’.

Student Ambassadors will be supported to undertake activities to facilitate inclusive learning environments, enhance student experiences, and engage with wellbeing activities.

 Over two years, partners will focus on issues specifically relevant to their student populations. Overall, the programme will work to improve student experience, attainment and other outcomes such as employability for BAME students and those from low socio-economic groups and students that experience mental ill health.

Students will be empowered to tackle the negative effects of stereotyping and micro-aggressions and safely challenge racism, harassment and other forms of discrimination on campus through the development of an evidence-based intervention that will encourage them to become active bystanders to events, with training provided to help them chose the best course of action.