Higher Education Minister Visits University of Liverpool

Higher Education Minister Robert Halfon with students, degree apprentices and the Vice Chancellor

The Minister for State for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, The Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, visited the University of Liverpool to hear about our work in widening access to university and supporting students.

Vice Chancellor Professor Tim Jones hosted a roundtable discussion with degree apprentices, student Disability Coaches and staff for the Minister to learn about the University’s Widening Participation initiatives and work within the community on Merseyside.

Dr Paula Harrison, Director of Student Administration and Support, introduced the Minister to a team of student Disability Coaches. They talked with him about their lived experience of accessing disability support, and how they use their experience in their roles as Coaches to help support students navigate all aspects of university life from transport, to timetabling, to accessing Disabled Students Allowance.

The Minister heard from the Disability Coaches about how their work is integral to the student support offered at Liverpool, and the support available for students with mental health conditions.

John Corish and Iain Roberts from Widening Participation explained the extensive outreach schemes which take place at Liverpool to make sure that all students have the opportunity to go to University, no matter what their background.

The VC and Minister chat with Paula Harrison and a student disability coach

The Minister learned about how the University of Liverpool is one of the best in the Russell Group for Widening Participation through a range of partnerships working with local Further Education colleges, care experienced young people and with Everton in the Community, LFC Foundation and the Steve Morgan Foundation to launch IntoUniversity. This unique partnership has meant that thousands of local young people aged seven and above have experienced higher education via a tailored programme of workshops, out-of-school study, mentoring and one-to-one support.

Damian Haigh, Headteacher at the Liverpool Maths School discussed how their mathematically-focussed curriculum equips 16 to 19-year-olds from a range of backgrounds with problem-solving and analytical abilities, and gives them the confidence to progress to university or an apprenticeship.

The Minister also met with two of the University’s degree apprentices undertaking the Level 7 MsC Advanced Clinical Practitioner Apprenticeship Programme. This has been delivered by the School of Heath and Life Sciences since 2019, when a local NHS Trusts, Mersey Care, approached the University about running the programme to support their skills and needs.

The degree apprentices, both working as nurses in the NHS, explained how they managed their jobs with studying and how they were applying what they’d learned on the course to their clinical practice.

This degree apprenticeship provides health care practitioners with the opportunity to develop the advanced skills necessary to work in a range of healthcare settings. Degree apprentices at the University of Liverpool are now working across 16 hospital trusts, the North West Ambulance Service and other local care providers.

The Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP said: “It was inspirational to talk to the students and staff at the University of Liverpool and hear about such a diverse range of experiences and university partnerships across the wider community. My visit gave me a great deal of food for thought for how we can further develop degree apprenticeships and the support services offered to university students – thank you to all who took the time to speak with me.”

Vice Chancellor Professor Tim Jones said: “I was really pleased that the Minister could take time out of his busy schedule to visit campus and hear directly from our students about their work. Our students were excellent ambassadors for our university and really eloquent in sharing their experiences.

“We’re really proud of our longstanding commitment to widening participation – it’s in the fabric of our DNA that, as a civic university, we represent the communities that we work with in. It was great to have the opportunity to showcase this to the Minister first-hand.”