Monday 24th April saw UKCBC Principal, June Dennis, speak at the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Alternative Provider Engagement conference at the beautiful Central Hall in Westminster. June gave a presentation alongside Alex Proudfoot, Chief Executive of Independent Higher Education; and Gordon McKenzie, Chief Executive of GuildHE.

The event gave alternative provider institutions (APs) the chance to meet and discuss the challenges they face, learn about potential future developments in the sector, and gain insight into the partnerships being formed between alternative providers and higher education institutes (HEIs).

The event saw leaders from the sectors host sessions designed specifically to support the existing and emerging needs of alternative provider institutions. One common theme was the APs’ relationship with HEIs and the different ways each empowers social mobility. Other workshops focused on encouraging collaboration between APs, and exploring how data can be used to understand and enhance students’ experience of AP education.

UKCBC Principal June Dennis on Developing and Maintaining Relationships with Higher Education Institutions

June gave a presentation on how to develop and maintain relationships with HEIs, starting with an introduction on one of the main challenges facing APs: “Currently, there is a significant power imbalance. There is no level playing field between alternative providers and established higher education institutions, something that is repeatedly alluded to in various government initiates.” For June, the role of APs in education is slowly gaining prestige, with the government aware of the necessity to align the status of the APs and HEIs.

She moved on to give advice on how to develop partnerships with higher education institutes, referencing some key points to consider, including: picking a partner strategically, and researching where you can realistically benefit a higher education provider, as well as evaluating how much value they will add to your institution.

June’s presentation finished with a few key points on how to maintain the relationship once established: sharing information and initiatives across institutions is important to the stability of the partnership; as well as keeping communication open and regular, both positive news and any issues that may arise should be addressed promptly.

The conference revealed how alternative provider education has become a genuine alternative to higher education, with more universities open to partnerships with APs than ever before. The hierarchical nature of education in the UK is changing thanks to both the continued support of organisations like Independent Higher Education and Guild Higher Education, and the quality education APs offer students.

UKCBC has always strived to make a difference to the development of its students. UKCBC has been proactively engaging with HEFCE, HEA, QAA and similar institutions of great stature. The college’s endeavour has helped its students in many great ways.

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