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Case study: Warwick Gateway to Higher Education

Gateway to HE is a free non-accredited sixteen-week access course designed to equip local adult learners with the confidence and skills to study at degree level. Successful completion of the course by passing all three assessments (essay, exam, presentation) guarantees a place on CLL’s Social Studies degree programme. The course runs twice each year, once in the day, once in the evening. Students attend for three hours once each week. The course introduces students to a variety of social science topics which are explored in an informal classroom setting. Weekly homework including reading and essay writing takes an escalator approach which increases the complexity and length of the tasks as the course progresses. Students have a Warwick library card and are encouraged to use academic and pastoral resources within and beyond CLL.

Department(s) / colleagues involved

Centre for Lifelong Learning, Steve Gascoigne (Senior Teaching Fellow)

Our aim was to …

Widening Participation initiatives often focus on only two WP aspects: low socio economic status and first generation to consider HE. Gateway focuses on the third aspect: adult learners. Our aim is to engage adults from the local community and to give them a low risk entry point into HE.

What we did …

The course was designed by Will Curtis and Steve Gascoigne. It is taught by Steve Gascoigne. The cost of running the course is taken from CLL’s budget which is then recovered by the increase in undergraduate enrolments through Gateway. The course is marketed primarily through social media and local events such as the Godiva Festival. CLL holds drop in sessions a number of times each year where potential applicants can talk with the marketing team and academic staff.

The outcome has been …

Gateway has run for a total of eight cycles (two per year) we have recruited 170 students onto the Gateway Programme and 70 students have enrolled on CLL’s Social Studies Degree both part time and full time. Eight students have graduated from the programme so far.

Warwick Gateway to Higher Education

The benefit/impact has been …

  • Increased numbers of adult learners studying at Warwick and graduating with a Warwick degree
  • Increased awareness in the local community of Warwick in general and Gateway in particular
  • Increased confidence amongst learners returning to study

This supports the Education Strategy by …

  • Sustaining a diverse student community.
  • Developing local adult learners’ attributes.
  • Engagement in the local community.
  • Continuous development of the Gateway programme.
  • Accessible teaching aimed at adult learners returning to study.
  • Engaging with the extended classroom tools.
  • Close contact between academic and support teams to offer pastoral care

The response of students / staff has been …

Positive response from the students involved including many recommendations of the programme to family members and friends.

Our next steps will be …

The programme operates on a philosophy of continual improvement and is changed slightly with each delivery. Current steps include working toward increasing the duration by 2-3 weeks or 6-9 hours, refining the admissions process to include a short written exercise and considering extra support in the transition from Gateway to first year degree study. Longer term we are considering expanding the programme.

To find out more, you can contact …

Steve Gascoigne: s dot gascoigne at warwick dot ac dot uk