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Sussex hosts national Foundation Years conference with students first approach

L to R: Susan Robbins (Sussex Centre for Language Studies), Ronan McKinney (English), Graeme Pedlingham (English), Wendy Ashall (Global Studies), Wendy Garnham (Psychology), Mark Clark (Business School), Jill Kirby (History)

The University of Sussex is hosting a national conference celebrating the diversity of Foundation Year provision and the work being done to encourage access and choice for students.

Organised by academic staff across the University, the Foundation Year Network conference will share best practices across the sector, and recognise the diversity of models being used in Foundation Year teaching. Taking place on Wednesday 10 and Thursday 11 July, the event will focus on the student first approach, showcasing education which identifies both what the student wants and gets from their foundation year and university degree.

Dr Graeme Pedlingham, Head of Central Foundation Years at the University of Sussex, and a member of the Local Organising Committee, said: “This year’s conference is really seeking to recognise and celebrate the diversity and vibrancy of Foundation teaching across the sector, as well as the value that these courses add to students.”

Speakers at the conference will include Adam Finlayson, from the Office for Students, as well as academics from across the UK’s universities including Sussex, Durham, Leeds, Northumbria, Nottingham and several others.

Panels and workshops will interrogate the ‘deficit model’ of learning, its effects upon educators and learners, and strategies for an inclusive pedagogy. This reflects the emphasis in the Foundation Years’ community on putting students at the centre of learning: supporting student success and helping students to make progress along their chosen path.

Wendy Ashall (Global Studies), chair of the Local Organising Committee, and Ronan McKinney (English), member of the Local Organising Committee, said: “It’s a real pleasure to be the host University for this year’s conference.

“We’re looking forward to sharing knowledge from across the sector and tackling the issues that arise from the deficit model, which suggests that students are somewhat ‘lacking’.

“Foundation years are incredibly important in higher education, and we’re proud to have had a lot of success stories at Sussex.”

The conference runs over Wednesday and Thursday, and includes a drinks reception at the Institute of Development Studies where Foundation year students from the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences will showcase a series of interactive outreach demonstrations.

For more information on the Foundation Year Network, visit:

By: Stephanie Allen
Last updated: Thursday, 11 July 2019