Welcome to the Advancing Access blog!

The first article in a blog is rarely the most interesting one – I dare say that this will be no exception… However, rather than simply diving straight in to some of the content we have planned for you, I wanted to welcome you all to our new Advancing Access blog and take the opportunity to explain why we’ve decided to add a blog to our website.

Advancing Access is not a service in which we (the universities) lecture you (the teachers and careers advisers). Rather, Advancing Access has always been intended to be a dialogue between universities on the one hand and schools and colleges on the other.

We sit as intermediaries between higher education and secondary and further education. One of our roles is to advise you about higher education. We aim to put you in the strongest possible position to help support your students to progress to leading universities. We’re lucky in that we are positioned within a large network of university staff from across the country who are able to make sure that we’re offering the most relevant advice possible.

We do have a second role though, which is not to advise but to listen. We’re not in schools day to day, but we spend a lot of time with teachers and we strive to keep our fingers on the pulse and be receptive to the particular needs of teachers and advisers at this particular moment in time. These two roles lead me to the two big aims that we have for this blog…

Keeping you well informed about the latest HE developments

The world of higher education changes at an extremely fast pace. Consumers of news media enjoy stories about universities, and the news media keep these consumers happy by delivering stories about UK higher education almost every day. Similarly, new educational research is being published all the time and new Government reports and policy documents are released on what seems like a weekly basis. Keeping track of this can be a full time job, and it’s a full time job that teachers and advisers simply don’t have the time to complete.

We’re lucky in that we are in a position which allows us to take the time to digest this information and identify the things which are most salient for anyone who is in the business of advising young people about their future educational choices. We hope to be able to present this information to you in this blog. Over time we will be adding to our existing bank of CPD resources, and we will continue to check these resources for their accuracy and relevance. However, producing professionally formatted resources takes time and sometimes we want to be able to get new information out to our audience slightly quicker. This blog will provide a suitable vehicle for those times in which we wish to disseminate information to our audience in a more timely fashion.

Entering into a conversation with our users

As I’ve said, Advancing Access should be seen as a dialogue. We’ve been thinking about how we can introduce more user interactivity on our site. During our online Virtual Conferences, delegates have the opportunity to both chat with university representatives and also to chat with each other. However we typically only host these events once per year. The challenge of hosting a large user forum on the website is one which we probably aren’t ready for at the moment, however the comments space under our blog posts will offer users the chance to converse with each other (and us) for the first time outside of our Virtual Conference events. We hope you will rise to this challenge and get typing! The typical blogger knows full well that the percentage of their readers who take the trouble to write comments underneath their work is fairly small. However there’s nothing we’d enjoy more than the opportunity to discuss with you the issues that we raise in each blog post and to hear more about your experiences advising students on the ground.

Once the blog has bedded in, we’d also like to publish articles authored by our own user base of teachers and advisers. Perhaps you’re an existing blogger who is looking to boost your reach, or maybe you’ve thought about dipping your toe in to the blogosphere before but have never been quite brave enough. Now could be your chance to share that piece of good practice from your school or college with the world – and if our Google Analytics account is to be believed there over 15,000 people who could potentially read what you have to say.

I think that’s the initial housekeeping done for now. Keep your eye out for blog article number 2, which in essence will be our first “proper” post. In the meantime, please comment to let us know the sorts of topics which you’d like to be covered in the blog. Everything we post will be linked on our Twitter feed too, so following us is a great way to make sure you catch everything.


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