USW wins national Student Recruitment award

HELOA award 2020

The Student Recruitment team in MSR were named winners of the Higher Education Liaison Officers’ Assocation (HELOA) Student Recruitment and Outreach award last night.

The award was in recognition of an HE visit day the team organised last year for students with Autistic Spectrum Conditions. The event was organised and delivered in collaboration with colleagues in Student Services and Go Wales, as well as input from local charities.

The team had recently received training on supporting students with Autistic Spectrum Conditions, and had worked with charities such as the Halcyon Foundation and the National Autistic Society to support individual learners. They had also consulted with numerous stakeholders and felt that there were students with ASC in schools and colleges that would benefit from additional support with their HE research and applications.

This would form part of USW’s widening access activity, but also ensure that the University was not simply widening access by default, but were really focusing on key under-represented groups who were asking for additional support.

As a result, a HE Visit Day for students with ASC was developed. Teachers, advisers, support workers, learning support assistants, specialist tutors, parents, carers and students were invited to the event at the Pontypridd Campus, with the aim of inspiring students with ASC to consider HE.

 Will Simpson, who has Autism and will start at USW this September, attended the visit day and has made this video to describe his positive experience:

Sera Evans, Head of UK Student Recruitment at USW, said: “We involved the University’s Estates colleagues in ensuring that the environment for the visit was suitable for those with ASC, and enlisted the input of student ambassador, Thomas Wade, who himself had been diagnosed with ASC and has accessed USW’s support services for autistic students.

“It was very much a collaborative effort. We believe that the support USW’s Disability and Wellbeing Team provides is outstanding and wanted to be able to highlight this as part of the event.

“One of our longer-term aims was to enable students to establish a link with our Disability and Wellbeing Team prior to enrolment. When we began researching the event, the team informed us that very often students and their carers register with them too late in the day, and therefore, identifying students with additional needs earlier in the process would be beneficial to both the student and the University.

“The recruitment benefit was obvious – the more supported the student feels prior to acceptance and enrolment, the more likely they are to enrol, and of course, the more likely we are, as a University, to retain them.

Steve Lake, Director of MSR, added: “This kind of peer recognition is incredibly valuable, and makes us all very proud to join with the team in celebrating this award.”