The Students' Union received funding to help towards costs in hosting the inaugural ‘Accessing Higher Education: A Conference for Non-Traditional Students’.
The event included a mixture of keynote speakers, stall holders and workshops. The keynote speakers were Ann Russell; one time non-traditional student and now Access Course Tutor at the University of Stirling and Robert Foster; non-traditional student and currently VP Education at NUS Scotland. The workshops included; Is the Access Course for Me, Lifelong Learning; Overcoming the Challenges and Supporting Young Carers.
The conferences two main aims were, firstly, to serve as a best practice sharing exercise, encouraging staff to learn from one another and discuss the barriers that many non-traditional students face, and secondly, to offer an opportunity to potential students’ who identify as non-traditional to see what support is available to them, and to realise that Higher Education is an option for them.
Overall, the conference was successful in starting a conversation that is much needed in Higher Education. Non-traditional students cover so many individuals; all with different support needs, and there needs to be more done to encourage these students in Higher Education. Hopefully the momentum this conference has initiated will help to push forward with the bigger plans to continue annually, as well as setting up outreach community work to bring more non-traditional students into Higher Education.