Our approach to APPs: whole provider approach

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

Access and Participation Plans (APP) are designed to be institutional level strategies that address barriers to Equality of Opportunity for underrepresented students and are part of the Office for Students conditions of registration,

At Bath we were one of 40 providers that had their APP approved as part of the new approach to APPs focusing on Equality of Opportunity.

Our timelines for producing our APP were dictated by our approval timelines. We worked back from the date of submission of OfS. This allowed us to work out our nearest Council (our governing body) meeting and then our process to get to Council. This gave us a map of meetings and papers we need to produce. On paper it was simple, go from one Board to the next. The reality as with all these things are different and through the process, we found things we would do differently next time.

Use Boards for decisions and approvals

In order to ensure that our APP was representative of the whole institution we took a wide-ranging approach to consultations engaging staff and students as early as we could in the process. You can find more details on how we approached this on our blog post.  We also sent papers to operational Boards asking for input. Although there was a general positive engagement, we found the engagement from Boards is much better when there is something to decide upon with options or things to approve, open ended and unstructured conversations didn’t give the outputs we had hoped we would get.

Agree a set of principles

Having a set of principles that were agreed by senior Boards would have saved us several meetings and conversations. There were a few times towards the end of the process when we were putting drafts to Boards where there were questions about why we had taken a certain approach. Although the answers and approach were reasoned and agreed with, it took additional time. Having a set of principles – how you'll approach the APP and what it will be – will mean everyone will be on the same page as you get to the approvals phase.

Agree financial commitments early

We were working in a compressed timescale with uncertain guidance, which made making decisions about finance early challenging. Finances in the HE sector in are getting more and more challenging with the flat tuition fee. Ensuring that the APP is sustainable and that the funds are allocated for a 4-year strategy is important. We had many conversations about what we could/should commit to the APP alongside developing intervention strategies. The sooner the budget is agreed the easier it will be to finalise intervention strategies.

Engage with data as early as you can

Understanding your institutional data and starting the assessment of performance early in the process will allow you to identify where the biggest challenges are. This can inform your approach to intervention strategies and will set your targets and objectives. You can find out more about how we approached the assessment of performance on our blog.


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