A grant totalling £114,729 has been awarded to Bath Spa University to research and explore why students from an Armed Forces background are under-represented on Access to Higher Education courses.

The Forces in Mind Trust, an organisation established to help ex-Service men and women make a successful transition back to civilian life, has awarded £97,209 of this grant.  An additional £9,600 has been awarded by Help for Heroes and a further £7,920 from apt awards, the Access course validating agency for the South West region. apt awards will also provide an Access to HE Consultant for the duration of the project.

The Access to Higher Education Diploma is a well-established qualification, widely accepted throughout the higher education (HE) sector to prepare students who, for many reasons have few if any, qualifications suitable to gain entry to HE.  In recent years the overall size of the regular Armed Forces has been reduced as increasing numbers of military personnel are made redundant.  This project will develop a set of recommendations about how best to encourage students with an Armed Forces background to undertake an Access course.

The research project is led by Dr Mel Macer, Research Fellow in the School of Education at Bath Spa University and is taking place in the South West because approximately 25 per cent of Britain’s Service and ex-Service personnel and their families live in the region.  The researchers will work with ex-Service personnel from all three Services.

The project aims to increase the number of students with an Armed Forces background in HE, to develop a shared understanding between military and civilian organisations which exist to deliver Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) on HE courses and to identify barriers that adults can experience in their knowledge of, or engagement with, Access to HE diplomas.  The project’s recommendations will ensure that Access Course students in the UK are not disadvantaged by their military background.

Dr Mel Macer said: “It is great to secure this support from these key organisations to deliver this important piece of work. This project further demonstrates Bath Spa University’s commitment to supporting educational outcomes for members of the wider Armed Forces community.”

Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, Ray Lock said: “We know that a successful transition to civilian life depends on many factors, such as the ability to transfer and translate skills obtained in service into the civilian employment market.  During this transition process, Armed Forces Personnel can sometimes overlook entering higher education to enhance their employability, because of their own misperceptions on what qualifications they already have.  By exploring the flow of information and potential barriers to Access Courses, we will have an evidence base to ensure we can advise and encourage organisations supporting ex-Service Personnel and their families that entering Higher Education could be a feasible, as well as an attractive, route to a successful civilian life.”

About Bath Spa University

Bath Spa University is where creative minds meet. Offering a wide range of courses across the arts, sciences, education, social science and business to 7,000 students, the University employs outstanding creative professionals, which support its aim to be a leading educational institution in creativity, culture and enterprise.

Based in stunning countryside just a few minutes from a World Heritage City, Bath Spa University ensures its students graduate as engaged global citizens who are ready for the world of work. In fact, 93 per cent of graduates find themselves in work or further study within six months. www.bathspa.ac.uk

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