Access and Participation Strategic Statement

Access and Participation Strategic Statement 2017-2019

  1. Richmond, The American International University in London is committed to providing higher education to all who have the potential to benefit from academically challenging study. It has traditionally aimed to take a leading role in increasing awareness among young people of the importance of higher education and of the values and benefits of a liberal arts higher education in particular.
  1. This Access and Participation Strategic Statement reflects the development and achievement of the University’s widening participation objectives. Whilst the University remains committed to its original objectives as articulated in its Strategic Plan, 2011-2017, it continues to build on these general aims through the development of additional targeted outreach activities aimed specifically at those who may be disadvantaged and deterred from entering higher education.
  1. As a higher education provider, we acknowledge that the aspiration of going to University is challenging for many. Our response to this is to run initiatives to raise the aspirations of those who might be deterred from going to University due to affordability and their economic circumstances. Our widening participation activities include:
  • The University resources its widening participation mission with a complement of 3 recruitment and widening specialists and commits a substantial needs and merit scholarships/bursaries annual budget for those who are disadvantaged and underrepresented.
  • Scholarships and bursaries are awarded to reduce tuition costs at varying percentiles between 50%-33% based on need and merit.
  • Our recruitment and admissions policies are set out to facilitate admissions and eliminate any form of discrimination regardless of an applicant’s or prospective student’s economic or social background.
  • The University’s courses are designed to benefit students of ability, irrespective of age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief, or sexual orientation. Selection for entry is therefore based on consideration of academic ability, motivation for study, interest in the subject area and the potential both to benefit from the experience and to contribute to University life whilst on the course.
  • We offer a range of progression opportunities through transfer credit evaluation and the recognition of wide range of academic, vocational qualifications and experiential learning, in order to offer greater access to student with non-traditional educational backgrounds
  • The University aims to identify and attract students of the highest academic ability and potential and would not want financial considerations to deter suitable applicants. In order to this achieve this aim, The University offers bursaries to reduce the burden of cost from those applicants who present both need and merit indication during the application process.
  • Our financial support packages are communicated in a timely, clear and accessible manner, so that financial considerations do not deter applicants.
  • Our Recruitment and Marketing Team carry out a range of activities throughout the year to reach the widest constituency of applicants visiting schools, striking a balance of our reach to areas with higher, medium and low participation higher education rates.
  • Richmond invites all candidates and parents to publically accessible open days each month of the year, in which matters of student finance and the aspiration of attainment are discussed in order to encourage all students but especially those from low-income families and the underrepresented.
  • The University offers daily campus visits to the University during the day and selected evenings and extends this access to evening outbound calls to parents and applicants that require additional information about studying at university.
  • We reach out to a variety of schools across the UK and the US offering counsellors and parents our commitment to visit their schools at convenient times to present on the benefits of higher education, understanding UCAS and applying to university, tips on application form completion and drafting a persuasive personal statement and financing higher education.
  • In the light of the University’s small size, our focus on aspirational building programmes is limited to inviting children from local schools to visit our campus in the early summer months to meet with students and staff.
  1. The University recognises that the mission of widening participation must continue beyond the point of admission and throughout the period of enrolment in order to promote retention through on-going support that includes the following:
  • The University Needs and Merit Based Scholarships are provided to minimise the burden of cost and/or debt particularly for those with need and merit.
  • The University recognises that circumstances change and those who are underrepresented in higher education may face challenges that prevent them from continuing with their course of study. In response to this, accessible and annual revised Payment Plans are made available to those in need.
  • As a small institution, the University is able to provide continual and personalised academic guidance counselling to all students for the duration of study. All students are guided through each semester and provided with assistance to ensure that their programme of study is sustainable and identify any on-going concerns that may prevent students from completing their studies successfully.
  • As part the University’s liberal arts programme structure, the University requires transitional course units to build confidence, and develop presentation and academic skills. These study units enable our students to acknowledge that entering higher education and becoming accustomed to university is a very significant milestone for students from all backgrounds. These units are mandatory for all students in the first year and run alongside other academic provision in order to support students.
  • The University ensures that each member of academic staff has sufficient teaching experience and complete CPD that enhances their teaching in general and their support for students from a wide range of backgrounds.
  • Richmond offers individualised support for students with disabilities and special educational needs including open access workshops, peer to peer tutoring, one-to-one tutorials during faculty office hours and targeted allowances during exams and in other forms of assessment.
  • Students’ needs are assessed at the time they make their application to Richmond and support is negotiated through the acceptance stage and upon arrival.
  • Students who are offered academic allowances for special educational needs are also monitored every term for academic progress to ensure they are getting appropriate support to help them make progress through their courses. Adjustments are made if support is found to be inappropriate or further allowances are required.
  • All first year students take part in a year-long transitions course which aims to integrate them into University life. The courses connect students with peer mentors and offer resources to enable students to begin their journey as independent learners.
  • Students create personal development plans and get involved in civic engagement initiatives in order to build their understanding of responsibility and good citizenship inspired by the University’s liberal arts curriculum.
  • The University’s employability plans stretch from civic engagement and personal development in the first year to student leadership in the second year, internships in the third year and research-related projects in the final year. Richmond graduates maintain an impressive standard of graduate employment and many go on to study at postgraduate level.
  1. The University considers the success, well-being and academic progress of all its students with a view to achieving improved annual outcomes and addresses financial need and support as part of these processes.