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The Centre for Social Mobility grants scheme

Grants Scheme

Background 

Despite concerted efforts by higher education providers, Government, and the regulator, inequalities within higher education persist at all points of the student lifecycle. Perpetual differences between groups in terms of entry into higher education, degree outcomes and employment show that more needs to be done to ensure that everyone can achieve their potential and enjoy the benefits of higher education, regardless of their background.  

The Centre for Social Mobility has run a grants scheme across the academic years 2020/21 and 2021/22 awarding eight projects up to £5000 to undertake research and pedagogic innovation. Projects have focused on a variety of themes including inclusive / decolonising the curricula, key transition points in the student journey, and using Lego workshops to visualise graduate transitions into employment. The grants scheme is open again for research proposals to begin in October 2022 to July 2023.  

What we are looking for: 

The Centre for Social Mobility is seeking to fund research projects that trial and evaluate innovative educational interventions aimed at reducing inequalities and disadvantages in higher education across the student lifecycle. In particular we are looking for projects that align with the strategic aims of the University’s Access and Participation Plan as specified in the table below. Projects will be funded up to £5000 to run throughout the academic year 2022/2023. The funding is open to students, professional services staff and academic staff.  

 

Strategic aim:

Relevant objective:

We are interested in projects that seek to:

Improve Access to University of Exeter

Support the attainment of school pupils at GCSE and Level 3 and work within our region

Work within our region and with organisations, third sector and other providers to build capacity, identify and address barriers

 

Develop specific pupil and family support e.g. skills development, tools, and information

 

 

Widen and diversify our applicant pool across key student groups and encourage, support, and prepare prospective students to enter HE Better support the recruitment, preparation, and transition of students with Access and BTEC qualifications, Mature students, and care leavers

Address the causes of observable gaps in success and progression for key groups

Minimise the observed gaps in continuation

Continue to improve experience of transition, induction, and year 1 especially around skills acquisition, information, and advice

 

Specific interventions for key groups including mature students, care leavers, students with BTECs, estranged students, carers, and students with disabilities

 

Minimise the observed gaps in attainment and achievement of graduate outcomes

Innovations across curriculum, teaching, and educational support, including inclusive teaching methods, personal tutoring, supporting a diverse learning community

 

Working towards a whole institution approach to wellbeing and building resilience across impairment types

 

Continuing to innovate and build on success of peer programmes

 

Enable equitable opportunities for progression, employability, and international experience especially for groups currently under-represented

 

 

The steering group are particularly interested in projects that: 

  • Are scalable and could change/ contribute /add to University of Exeter practices; 

  • Proposes either (a) fundamental contributions to knowledge with the potential to enhance practice or (b) innovative practical solutions; 

  • Place due consideration to the care and welfare of participants;  

  • Show a clear rationale and link to the literature; 

  • Use qualitative methods as part of the evaluation (if appropriate) to understand the thoughts, feelings, and insights of participants in depth; 

  • Aims to support specific disadvantaged or under-represented groups. 

What applicants are getting: 

  • Funding for directly incurred costs such as student and research support, administrative and IT support, equipment, technical expertise, and other items of direct cost necessary for your research.  

  • A designated mentor or contact person as well as access, and dissemination opportunities.  

We do not offer replacement for academic salaries or direct buy-out for University of Exeter staff.  

Reporting requirements:

Successful applicants will be required to provide a short interim report midway through the project as well as a full report and presentation to the steering group at the end of the project (July-August 2023). We also seek to showcase grant projects at the annual success for all conference, where you may be asked to contribute a poster or presentation.  

How to apply 

Applications can be made by completing the application form. Applications will close Friday 16th September 2022. 

If you have any queries about the grant scheme, please email Emma Goulding, Access and Participation Coordinator. 

 

Projects funded in 21/22

Exploring the experiences and expectations of Electively Home Educated (EHE) students before and after HE admission.

Research team: Luke Graham, Anna Mountford-Zimdars

A mixed methods approach, using survey, interviews and participatory approach to explore the experiences of EHE students (currently enrolled at UoE) and identify barriers to Higher Education. The research hopes to shape institutional policy and practices to support and recruit Electively Home Educated students. 

 

Introduction to Black British Studies: A New Interdisciplinary Module

Research team: Malcolm Richards, Nandini Chatterjee, Ryan Hanley, Nour Azzalini-Machecler, Diana Valencia Duarte

Students from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds are underrepresented in Humanities subjects across the country, but especially so at the University of Exeter. This project proposes to develop a new ‘Introduction to Black British Studies’ interdisciplinary module taught collaboratively by both university staff, students and guest lecturers. The course will be open to all first-year Humanities students in the first instance, with the aim that it can be developed as an open online course in future years. It is intended to provide a learning space where intellectual and cultural expertise of members of Britain’s Black communities are visible and valued.

 

Mapping decolonisation

Research team: Caitlin Kight, Saffron O'Neill, Tom Roland, Ian Cook

To support Geographers to proceed with curricula decolonisation at a programme level, rather than in a piecemeal and uncoordinated approach. The research proposes to interview module convenors, undertake a document analysis and focus groups with current students. This information would then be used to create a literal map – physical and/or digital – showing where decolonisation is happening throughout each programme, and what form that decolonisation is taking (e.g., reading lists, assessments, guest speakers).

 

Can we talk about this?

Erin Walcon, Karen Kenny, Bryan Brown and Doorstep Arts

This project uses innovative theatre techniques to open up dialogue about challenges for staff and students which are not commonly addressed at university (including: wellbeing, consent, privilege). Through focusing on Personal Academic tutors as participants, it aims to address gaps in training and resource overload, varied levels of PT expertise/confidence, differing understandings of the nature of the role & identifying safeguarding responsibilities, navigating student barriers to accessing support and to unpack staff bias and privileges.