Our approach to APPs: Risk Identification

Posted in: Bath's approach to Access and Participation Plan development

The 2024-28 Access and Participation Plan (APP) is based around the identification and mitigations of Risks to Equality of Opportunity. Risk to Equality of Opportunity means:

A risk to equality of opportunity occurs when the actions or inactions of an individual, organisation or system may reduce another individual’s choices about the nature and direction of their life.

In order to identify our risks at Bath we undertook a wide-ranging consultation across the University. We began in November 2022 at a time when there was an Office for Students (OfS) consultation about changes to APP regulation but Regulatory Notice 1 and Regulatory Advice 6 weren’t published.

Our consultations started as open conversations through meetings, online forms and online and in-person workshops with both staff and students. We targeted particular departments and held dates where we could get a few people from each department into a room. We focused on gathering insight through asking attendees a few open questions:

  • What did they understand of the APP
  • What did they think the risks to equality of opportunity were
  • Do they currently do any work that could be mitigating the risks to equality of opportunity

These three questions gave us the knowledge of where we needed to focus our communications and the need for a clear and accessible plan. It gave us a list of activities people thought were supporting APP goals and it gave a list of risks – there were lots of them after eight workshops.

The list of activities was important for two reasons, one it gave us a sense of what was happening – there were one or two things we didn’t know about – and it allowed us to ensure that everyone’s work was represented in the new APP and that they could see where their work supported the aims and objectives of the APP.

By the beginning of 2023 we had a version one risk register which went through various iterations through theming and streamlining. In February and March 2023 we were able to put first versions of the risk register to operational boards. The boards had their input and we edited throughout. Once we felt we had a solid register we put it to groups of students with lived experience to see if and how they felt the risks studying at Bath. Their feedback lead to final edits and produced the final risk register of nine key risks to equality of opportunity.

While we were preparing our risk register the OfS’ Equality of Opportunity Risk Register (EORR) wasn’t published, so once it was, we undertook a matching exercise to map our risks to the national risks.

Alongside identifying risks we were also undertaking an Assessment of Performance which gave us where the risks were showing in the data. A final mapping exercise linking the risks to identification of risks produced a full risk register which is included in Annex A of our APP.

The nine key risks we have identified are considered to be present across the lifecycle of students. We then defined what the risks mean at each point of the lifecycle. Clarity about the risks means that everyone working on activity towards APP targets is working to a same set of definitions. A full mapping exercise of activity to risks has been undertaken as part of our approach to evaluation.

This blog is part of a series of blogs about how we prepared our new Access and Participation Plan for wave 1 submission in 2023.

Posted in: Bath's approach to Access and Participation Plan development