When did you first introduce the innovation?
Less than 12 months ago
Please describe the innovation you have developed
During the academic year 2014-2015 BU introduced an online webinar open day as an alternative to students who may struggle to attend a typical face to face open day. In the webinar, an academic from the adult nursing programme spoke for 30 minutes about the programme and the nursing philosophy at BU. This was followed by a 10 minute talk on accommodation and finance, and then there was a 45 minute Q&A session with an academic, admission recruitment administrator, a student enrolled on the programme and someone with expertise in finance and accommodation.
What prompted you to develop this innovation?
Following funding from the university during the summer of 2015, I led a small a co-production research project with fair access students (defined as first in family to attend HE, socioeconomic groups 4-7 and individuals with a background in the care system). This research sought to explore fair access students’ attitudes and opinions of attending HE and the reasons why the University was an attractive choice for them. Whilst there were many findings from the research, one in particular stood out regarding a reduced ability to attend open days (due to financial costs of travelling and lack of time as many potential fair access applicants had to work due to finances). Inability to attend open days could potentially doubly disadvantage these students who often had to make university choices based on online information and were therefore not exposed to the advice and guidance offered to applicants at open days. In addition, these students were not exposed to the culture of the university nor had chance to speak to members of staff involved in programme. The research findings also identified that these applicants had the same interest in attending HE as their non-Fair Access counterparts yet potentially could be disadvantaged in the application system (many of them were not aware of the importance of disclosing they were from a diverse background), in addition many of these students do not have the same levels of support with the application process at home or at school then their non-Fair Access counterparts.
In your view, what is it about this innovation that makes it different/important?
Attracting and recruiting diverse students to HE is fundamental if HEIs are to meet their responsibilities with regards to widening participation. Within healthcare courses this is especially important to ensure that the workforce suitably reflects the communities they serve. However, HEIs can only be successful in increasing the numbers of a diverse student population if it supports those applicants to have the same opportunities re accessing support in the pre-application stage.
To what extent does your innovation make use of existing approaches, resources or technologies?
This initiative was very cost effective as it adapted the resources currently used and re packaged them in a way that was more user friendly, by using technology already available at the university.
To what degree has this innovation led to changes in education or clinical practice?
Whilst this initiative is in its infancy, it has led to applications from those applicants that attended the online open day webinar so we are now planning to host 2 online webinar open days each year in addition to the normal face to face open days.
What evidence do you have of the impact of the innovation?
We have monitored the impact of the webinar, both from an applicant as well as from an admissions perspective. Feedback from applicants informed us that this mode of delivery was suitable for them as many of them were unable to attend open days:
“As I am at college during the week and like to make sure I attend all lessons, I also supervise at the weekend and have used my holiday entitlement for the exam period next June so it was more practical, easier and cheaper”.
“Unable to get time off in order to attend open day, also long way to travel”.
“Due to work and school commitments I was unable to attend the open day on campus”.
The ‘keenness to study at BU’ increased from an average of 6 to 8.5 out of 10 after the webinar. A single webinar of 30 attendees led to 17 continuing to submit an application to the programme.
To what degree has the innovation been disseminated in your organisation or elsewhere?
A paper on the research project has been submitted for publication and is currently undergoing peer review
Please provide details of any plans you have to disseminate the innovation in the future.
This project is one of the many WP projects within BU and we plan to submit a symposium of WP activities at a WP conference.