Student populations are becoming increasingly diverse. Across the post-16 sector, students from a growing variety of less traditional backgrounds are encouraged to participate - and they deserve to be successful.
- Students from ethnic minorities
- Schools in financially disadvantaged areas and under represented communities
- Those who have experienced care or are carers
- Those who have on going physical and mental health challenges
- Students with disabilities, literacy or language differences
There are now multiple routes into post-16 education. Older students, some with families and caring or work responsibilities to prioritise, will make up a larger percentage of the student population in the future. Their learning needs are equally diverse. They want to study in more flexible ways - when, where and however works for them.
Technology has a key role to play in delivering these more personalised student experiences successfully and making equality of opportunity happen.
While being inclusive is an important part of a fair and just society, it also makes sound business sense to be able to participate in developing the diverse digital workforce of the future.
What you can do
There are growing business opportunities in exploiting the power of technology to support more diverse learners.
Digital technologies can:
- Help encourage a wider demographic of students to apply to your institution
- Support teaching delivery that will reach out into new communities
- Provide personalised, customised learning experiences that keep students engaged and support their individual success
Take a strategic approach to embedding inclusive digital capability and developing an accessible organisation that will welcome all learners.
Building the bridge to post-16 education and beyond
Being aware of student expectation in the digital environment can help ensure your course is attractive and relevant to prospective students. They expect to use technology for learning and to acquire digital skills for employment.
Our digital student project and enhancing the student digital experience guide contain useful information to help develop inclusive digital learning environments which will meet expectations and encourage wider participation.
Developing your students’ employability through technology can also help encourage lifelong learning as well as enhancing digital literacy and graduate attributes.
Enabling through technology
Technology can be used to attract and retain the widest range of students.
Online delivery can:
- Remove physical and cultural barriers, for learners in remote, dispersed or under-represented communities
- Encourage collaboration and build confidence in those returning to study
- Enable greater access for those with ill health, or unsocial working hours
- Support increased independence for learners with disabilities
Our enhancing staff support for learners with disabilities guide provides guidance for all staff.
Create a supportive learning environment
This is essential for attracting and retaining students. Websites, course information and the application process must be usable and welcoming to everyone.
Virtual learning environments (VLEs) can be adapted to make them accessible to all learners including those with disabilities. Used well, they are one of the greatest tools for engaging teaching that will enhance the student experience and overcomes barriers.
Encourage personal devices - they can be customised to support time management, productivity and study skills. They promote independence for all students, not just those with disabilities.
Social media plays an increasingly important part in the learner journey, both for teaching, learning and ongoing engagement. It has a role in attracting and communicating with individuals and communities that would otherwise be hard to reach. The winners of our 2018 social media superstars competition demonstrated how FE and social media can be the perfect match.
How are you doing so far?
Our accessibility self evaluation service will help you assess how accessible and inclusive your institution is to students, whatever their background or needs.
We also have advice on accessibility for senior managers in colleges and universities.
Meeting student expectations around digital learning will help attract students from a diverse range of backgrounds.
Our enhancing the student experience guide outlines how the use of digital technologies can contribute to successful student recruitment, and encourage learners who assumed higher education was not for them, to reconsider.