Reviewing the validity of assessments

Access Validating Agencies are required by QAA to ensure that Access to HE Diploma assessments are appropriate for the delivery method and for the demand required, and facilitate valid assessment of student achievement. However, reliance on regulation alone can encourage an overly procedural approach, with a dependence on remedial action once assessment standards are deemed to be insufficient or inconsistent.

Over the last few years, to support the identification of issues within assessment standards at an earlier stage, CAVA has been exploring with our providers and moderators what it means to have valid assessment, and how we can measure validity in assessment design. Informed by these discussions, we have developed a new guide which provides a definition of the term ‘validity’, and practical questions to support consistent measurement of particular aspects of assessment design. The ‘Guide for reviewing the validity of assessments’ can be found in the Resources section of the CAVA Members Area.

The guide highlights four key areas of assessment design:

  • the alignment of the assignment/exam with the knowledge and skills laid out by the assessment criteria
  • the alignment of the assignment/exam with the conventions of the subject and what is recognised as important knowledge within the associated sector
  • the translation of assessment criteria into question and item selection within the particular assignment/exam
  • the importance of clarity and conciseness and the relevance of tasks to the knowledge and skills under assessment
  • Aspects of the guide may feel familiar to CAVA provider staff and moderators, as it is aligned to the QAA requirements for assessment design and standards, and mapped to the broader questions on assessment within the CAVA External Moderator’s report template. The guide can be applied to any assessment type, and it is recommended that it is used as a prompt to explore and answer these broader questions at the moderation stage, and to strengthen the validity of assessments which are under development.

    Beyond the use of the guide in assessment development, we recommend the following ‘top down approach’ when designing assignments/exams. Keeping a focus on:

  • the key intended progression routes of a programme
  • the knowledge domain deemed as important by HE within that subject area
  • the needs of the target student group
  • how the above factors determine the subject content, level and structure of a programme
  • This provides a systematic, efficient, and informed method for the creation of assignments and exams. Similarly it is important during moderation to keep in mind the overarching intended purposes of the assessment to support the evaluation of the assignment/exam against the questions within the guide and identify the most pressing areas for improvement.

    It is hoped that using the guide will improve our evidence-based identification of good practice in assignment brief design, a benefit which is already being seen in the quality and detail of this year’s moderator feedback on assessments and in the development of our quality assurance steps for the buildup of our library of assignment briefs.

    CAVA conference 2022

    On Friday 2 December we held our annual CAVA conference, once again in person. It was a real delight to have our 84 attendees join us in Cambridge, to feel the energy and buzz of the CAVA community being together once again. The schedule was packed with keynote presentations from the QAA and the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University; alongside workshops on internal moderation, integrating sustainability into Access to HE Diplomas, and promotion and recruitment; and talks from our beloved CAVA Student Award winners and runners up.

    The conference explored the theme of “Sustaining the Future of Access to HE Diplomas”, with three strands running through the sessions. 

    Firstly: sustaining the robustness of the qualification. From the QAA, we learned that a defining feature of the Access to HE Diplomas has been its flexibility. The qualification’s flexibility has been key in responding to local needs; national priorities; and international circumstances. It has allowed students to continue to complete their studies to a high standard and progress to positive destinations. As we emerge from the most disruptive period of the pandemic, we must ensure the qualification remains robust and flexible in responding to future student needs. As a result, the QAA is undergoing a review of the Access to HE Diploma Grade Scheme; Diploma Specification; and AVA licencing arrangements. The QAA’s consultation on the Diploma Specification is open until 13 December and all stakeholders are encouraged to respond via this link.

    Access to HE practitioners also gathered in a workshop on internal moderation to explore the importance of this type of quality assurance and share good practice in operating internal moderation in their institutions. We invited participants to test a new CAVA internal moderation sampling form, as part of an exercise to review and provide feedback on student samples. We are grateful for everyone’s feedback and we will integrate this into our processes. A revised sampling form will be released in the new calendar year.

    Our second strand of the conference explored sustaining the relevance of the qualification. From the Global Sustainability Institute, we learned that “sustainability is not simply another subject to be learnt but a fundamental change in the ways we view the world”. We were challenged to consider how we move from learning about sustainability (level 1 single loop learning) to learning as sustainability with a ‘movement of the mind’ (level 3 transformational learning). This employs a systems approach, where students are encouraged to question paradigms and consider sustainability in all aspects of their learning. This challenge was considered as part of our workshop on integrating sustainability into Access to HE Diplomas. Participants highlighted the need to integrate sustainability into all aspects of the curriculum, with expert-informed examples of the relevance of the 17 UN sustainable development goals to all subjects. Discussion also highlighted how sustainability needed to be integrated into all aspects of the institution, not just the curriculum, to enable the mindset shift required for sustainable behaviour. 

    Our third strand of the conference focused on sustaining the recruitment to the qualification. In our workshop, participants reviewed adult student personas to consider the different types of students that undertake Access to HE Diplomas. The personas were collectively refined and will be made available to all CAVA members in the Promotional Resource Library in the CAVA Members’ Area. CAVA members are invited to join our Promotions and Recruitment working group, which meets twice a term to support collective recruitment activities. Please email register your interest.

    Our day concluded with our CAVA Student Awards. All students nominated were worthy of recognition, and our two runners up and two winners shone through their outstanding commitment to study and academic achievement. The exemplary support provided by their academic and pastoral teams was mentioned by each student, highlighting that we will sustain the future of the Access to HE Diploma through our collective care and passion for this life-changing qualification.

    The CAVA team would like to thank all of our speakers and all of our attendees for your engagement on the day!

    Key insights from the Association of Colleges Annual Conference 2022

    The AoC annual conference took place at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham across two full days on 15 and 16 November. CAVA’s Deputy CEO Emily Ross and Communications and Events Officer Sam Whitaker were pleased to attend both days and their key insights from the sessions they attended are summarised below.

    The conference touched on the country’s current big issues such as the changing job market, the cost of living crisis, pandemic recovery and climate emergency, and encouraged delegates to consider how skills and the FE sector can respond to, and be part of, the solutions to these issues. In addition to these big issues, the sector is also seeing ambitious curriculum reforms to qualifications from entry to Level 5. Delegates were encouraged to consider the educational landscape for 2030 and reflect on the impact for study programmes and adult courses both nationally and at local level.

    In a landscape which is seeing such changes, a critical starting point for leaders in the FE sector is to focus on the steps they can take to impact their working environment, the positive changes they can effect at their institutions, and strategies and methods for protecting their own mental health and wellbeing. Dr Sophie Bostick, Sleep Scientist challenged delegates to take up methods for maintaining healthy sleep patterns, whilst Professor Kevin Fong OBE spoke about his experiences working as the National Clinical Advisor in Emergency Preparedness Resilience and Response for the COVID-19 incident. Key learnings were how to adapt one’s own and one’s institutional work styles to meet the challenges posed by high-risk and unpredictable situations, and how appropriate delegation of authority and effective communication with one’s team and stakeholders supports reflection and resilience within the workplace.

    Graham Hasting-Evans, CEO NOCN and Tracey Patmore, Head of Product Development NOCN, invited delegates to consider their roles in the provision of new skills emerging from the Government’s plans for achieving Net-Zero, including those arising through new occupations as well as through upskilling requirements in existing jobs. Delegates were also encouraged to think about their own institutional Net-Zero plans through a session supporting providers’ reporting of carbon emissions using the Department for Education’s standardised framework, delivered by Department for Education, EAUC and AoC.

    Through a panel session with Pat Carvalho, Principal and CEO Birmingham Metropolitan College, Lee Elliot Major, Professor of Social Mobility University of Exeter and Ian Pryce, Chief Executive The Bedford College, delegates were invited to reflect upon the difference between social mobility and social justice, and consider ways in which further education can provide fair and meaningful solutions to the challenges posed by the current economic and cost-of-living crises.

    .There have been a number of commissions and reviews over recent years, including the Independent Commission on the College of the Future and the ongoing ResPublica Lifelong Learning Commission, and FE representatives have a key role to play towards building a post-16 education and skills system that works for the future. Speakers from ResPublica, AoC, NFER and DfE encouraged delegates to work together to feed into current thinking and agree priorities to take forward as a sector.

    The CAVA team would like to thank the AoC for an excellent conference.

    CEO welcome to 2022-23 academic year

    I am pleased to welcome you back after the summer, I hope it has been a restful and enjoyable break.

    Before we start the new academic year, I would like to reflect upon our previous year. I would like to thank all of our fantastic members for your part in successfully delivering the Access to Higher Education Diploma in 2021-22. From your timely engagement with us at CAVA to your unwavering support for your students, we have been constantly impressed by your commitment to the Access to HE Diploma. The impact of your work is evident in our student feedback. Students gave their experience of their Access to HE course an average 4.4 out of 5 in our end of year student satisfaction survey and 90% commented that it prepared them for their future course of study. This is highlighted in one student’s comment about their course: “I have more confidence in myself. My teachers believed in me, that I can do it, and they had my back through my journey in the Access to HE Diploma.”

    At CAVA, we used the 2021-22 academic year to review and update our quality assurance processes. With your input, we undertook a comprehensive review of our external moderation model and our grade database. Both reviews have resulted in improvements, which will make the processes more accessible and robust. We will be rolling out these new processes in the coming months, and I look forward to getting your feedback. We also validated new centralised Diplomas in Business; Childhood Studies; Computing; Health Professions; and Health and Social Care, as well as a new bespoke Diploma in Shoemaking. We continued to provide a full programme of staff development training opportunities for members, arranging 9 separate events attended by 547 attendees across our members. I was particularly proud that our course leaders gave us an average score of 5.8 out of 6 in our end of year survey for the statement “CAVA staff members are always helpful and supportive.” My favourite quote from a course leader was: “CAVA is very well organised and the staff there always go above and beyond to help. I have never worked with a better awarding body.”

    During the year, we were delighted to welcome Access Creative College, SMB College Group, and Selby College (through a merger to form the Heart of Yorkshire Education Group) as members, as well as Somerset Skills and Learning who joined us this summer. We were also pleased to sign a non-exclusive progression agreement with the University of Suffolk, which means that CAVA Access to HE Diploma students will benefit from lower offers or guaranteed interviews for entry to University of Suffolk courses in 2022-23 and 2023-24.

    Looking ahead to 2022-23, we will shortly be launching our new grade database, and a new e-learning resource for our Access to HE course tutors. The e-learning resource will supplement our annual training and events programme, to support you in continuing to offer high quality delivery. We are also building an assessment library to share good assessment practice across our validated Diploma frameworks.

    We are looking forward to working with our members around our Promotions and Recruitment working group to coordinate our marketing initiatives. We will also be setting up a new working group to explore electronic certification for future years; and a Student Advisory Committee to expand the student voice within CAVA.

    Finally, a key development in 2022-23 will be QAA’s review of the Access to HE Diploma Specification; Grade Scheme; and Licencing Agreement. We will share QAA’s consultations with our members as soon as they are published, and we will facilitate responses to support a robust and positive evolution of the qualification.

    Alongside all of this, we will be carrying on with our usual levels of support and guidance during this year. I would like to once again say a huge thank you to everyone in our CAVA community: our Access to HE course teams; all of our members’ staff; our Council of Members representatives; our Board Directors; and the CAVA Team for making 2021-22 a success. I look forward to working with you all to build on our achievements in 2022-23.

    Thank you,

    Flóra Raffai, CAVA Chief Executive Officer

    Bridging the Gap: CAVA Assessment Workshops

    As a membership organisation, one of CAVA’s strategic aims is to provide a full package of support for our Access to HE providers. As part of our programme of staff development training activities in 2021 and 2022, we ran two sessions on assessment theory and practice to provide practitioners with opportunities to develop and enhance their practice.

    For our first session in 2021, we worked with Cambridge Assessment Network (which provides professional development to the assessment community) to offer bespoke training for Access to HE practitioners on the key principles in the design and delivery of valid assessment. Topics included the purposes and principles of good assessment, valid assessment design, approaches to marking and grading, and providing effective feedback to students. Participants were encouraged to debate whether standards would be improved if assessment was more standardised. We also considered the inherent tensions within assessment design, in balancing the manageability, reliability and validity of assessments.

    The second session bridged the gap between assessment theory, general practice, and specific Access to HE assessment development and design, through a practical networking event which brought together practitioners to reflect upon their practice and identify areas for development within their own assessments. Participants discussed the multiple purposes of assessment feedback: clarifying achievement; reflection and improvement; confidence-building and motivation; and considered real-life cases which could have been improved by developing their feedback to cover these different purposes. Participants also considered different strategies to encourage students to engage with feedback, ranging from sequencing assessments to creating opportunities for sustained development of skills through feedback, sharing tutors’ own experience of working with feedback to model behaviours, to using audio/video feedback.

    Attendees welcomed the opportunities to speak with practitioners from other providers and explore the principles involved in unit construction and assignment brief design. However, there was a general call for even more practical advice; to “know the correct answers” and receive advice or guidance on the development of markschemes to support the application of the QAA grading scheme. In the follow-up assessment workshop in 2022, we gave participants the opportunity to work through the key stages of assessment design (administration, design, marking approaches and assessment planning), and begin to think about marking schemes that might support tutors’ interpretations of the national grade descriptors. CAVA members can access the resources and video recordings from both sessions in the ‘Resources’ section of the CAVA Members’ Area.

    At CAVA, we strive to ensure we offer highly relevant and valuable Access to HE Diplomas. We are in the process of creating a library of assessment briefs for units within our Access to HE Diplomas frameworks to offer even more opportunities to share good practice in assessment across our membership.

    QAA is currently reviewing the Grading Scheme for the Access to HE Diploma, which includes consideration of realignment of the existing grade descriptors. We are keen to provide further opportunities for practitioners and moderation to develop their assessment practice and expand upon our assessment guidance for our members. We look forward to the outcome of the QAA’s review and will be reviewing our assessment strategy and guidance in line with the future grading model.

    Quality is in the eye of the beholder

    To celebrate their 25th anniversary, the QAA has been exploring the concept of quality through a series of articles and events. Their latest event was a panel held on 15 June, which delved into the topic “quality is in the eye of the beholder”.

    Quality is a multifaceted concept, as detailed in a recent article by QAA CEO Vicki Stott. Panel members Hillary Gyebi-Ababio (Vice President Higher Education at NUS) and Maureen McLaughlin (Academic Registrar and Director, Student, Library, and Academic Services at Northumbria University) likened quality to a kaleidoscope – it is made up of several interrelated and interdependent parts which make a beautiful picture when everything is working in harmony. But the effect can be quite jarring when even one part of the picture does not align.

    To pin down the definition of the term, the panel focused on defining what quality is not. Quality does not equate to value for money – although the panel did recognise that it is important education does deliver value for the money and the time that students invest. However, defining quality as purely value for money constricts students into the role of solely consumers of education, which overlooks the roles students can play in engaging, developing, and co-creating their education alongside academic and support staff. As each student’s individual educational and support needs will be different, they will need to be provided with varying levels of support and therefore each student’s value for money will be different. Therefore, the panel argues that the quality of education cannot be reduced to or defined purely in monetary terms.

    Quality also does not equate to outcomes. The panel made the point that quality should be seen in terms of the process and the outcomes in equal measure. As Professor John Sawkins (Deputy Principal (Learning and Teaching) at Heriot-Watt University) put it, quality should not be seen as a “five year sheep dip to rid the organisation of nasty bugs and ticks”. It should be an ongoing process that all teams and departments engage in on an ongoing basis to identify ways to be better and deliver higher quality for the benefit of students. To enable this, Professor Chris Millward (Professor of Practice in Education Policy at University of Birmingham) added that policy needs to move away from a reliance on market forces to drive quality. It is a culture of quality that works best at embedding the processes and systems required to achieve the intended outcomes.

    Quality also does not equate to the assurance of quality. While quality assurance is important in measuring quality, it needs to delve into the reasons behind the measured level of quality. It needs to delve into causation, into the lessons that can be learned, and practices that can be applied across teams, departments, and institutions.

    Ultimately, the panel agreed that quality is achieved when we put students first. Hillary Gyebi-Ababio exemplified quality as a creation of a learning environment that is conducive for student enrichment, development, and curiosity; setting students off on their journey to carve out the impact they want to make in the world and in their communities.

    Key insights from QAA’s Access to HE annual conference

    The QAA’s Access to HE annual conference took place virtually across two half days on 10 and 11 May. Across the two days, the conference touched on different facets of the new Skills and Post-16 Education Act and its implications for the Access to HE Diploma.

    The primary aim of the Skills and Post-16 Education Act is to transform the skills and training landscape and level up opportunities across the country. Access to HE Diplomas closely align to this aim, providing opportunities for thousands of adults to re-engage with education at Level 3 and progress into higher education. Carys Willgoss from UCAS spoke at the conference about the partnership between UCAS and Health Education England to research “Who are the future nurses” and better understand the next generation of nurses. Key findings included: the role the pandemic has played in inspiring people to pursue nursing as a career, the rise in mature acceptances, and the outstanding fact that 99% of nursing applicants were extremely confident in their choice of career. Jim Bird, Lecturer and Senior Admissions Tutor within Health Sciences at University of Southampton, and Rebecca Jordan, Access to HE Lecturer at South and City College Birmingham, also highlighted in a panel discussion how Access to HE students bring valuable life experience that heightens their empathy and understanding in the health and social care sector. Former Access to HE students highlighted how the wide range of Diplomas free up adults to dream and choose different careers to pursue.

    The Skills and Post-16 Education Act also looks to introduce more flexible delivery models, with modular delivery and funding. Ann Cotterill, Quality Enhancement Specialist at QAA Scotland, explored a subset of modular delivery: micro-credentials. While there is currently no unified definition of micro-credentials, Ann highlighted the common aspects: a small package of focused learning; stand-alone but able to combine with other micro-credentials; range of educational levels; varying in size; and certificated and/or awarded a digital badge. QAA will create a common framework through a Characteristics Statement on micro-credentials for the UK. The presentation raised questions about how micro-credentials could support Access to HE delivery, for example, with micro-credentials in wellbeing and resilience supporting student retention. Through the CAVA Promotions and Recruitment Working Group, CAVA is exploring creating an e-learning resource for students to support their transition onto their Diploma.

    Another key aspect of the Skills and Post-16 Education Act is the aim to boost the quality of education and experience for students. To ensure the Access to HE Diploma remains sustainable, flexible, with robust quality assurance into the future, the QAA is undertaking a review of its AVA licensing agreement; the Access to HE Diploma specification; and the Diploma’s grade scheme between 2022 and 2024. A series of consultations on proposed changes will be run in the 2022-23 academic year; with the 2023-24 academic year designated as an ‘enabling’ year to allow providers and AVAs to prepare for full implementation in the 2024-25 academic year. Alongside this, case studies from University of Exeter and the Training, Education, and Consultancy Hub shared ways that quality and student experience could be enhanced through study skills. University of Exeter was working with Exeter College to part deliver, support, and provide enrichment activities around the Access to HE study skills unit, to enhance the student experience and further students’ academic skills which are so essential in supporting a smooth transition from FE to HE. The Training, Education, and Consultancy Hub are developing a new dedicated textbook to support Access to HE students with developing their study skills. The book is anticipated to be published in early 2024.

    Finally, the Skills and Post-16 Education Act included academic integrity legislation, which has criminalised essay mills for all post-16 education including Access to HE Diplomas. It is important to note that the legislation criminalises essay mills providing services and marketing their services – however, it does not criminalise the students themselves in accessing the services (though that would be classed as academic misconduct at an educational provider). Students may need support to understand that essay mills are now criminal entities and that students would put themselves at risk when engaging with criminals. Essay mills have engaged in further criminal activities, such as blackmailing students after use; and using the essay service to collect personal data about students to enable identity theft. The QAA has created an Academic Integrity Charter for providers to take a proactive stance on academic integrity and create a common framework of positive principles. The Charter can provide a starting point for conversations with students, to help them understand the value of academic integrity and the dangers of academic misconduct.

    The CAVA team would like to thank the QAA for an excellent conference.

    QAA Access to HE Conference – What does “access” actually mean?

    This year’s QAA Access to HE Diploma annual conference was opened with a powerful keynote speech from Shakira Martin (Head of Student Experience at Rose Bruford College; College of the Future Commissioner; Founder at The Class of 2020 #DigiProm; former NUS president; and former mature student to list but a few of her accomplishments). She challenged conference delegates with the definition of ‘access’: “the means or opportunity to approach or enter a place.”* and questioned the choice inherent within the definition.


    Shakira shared that most educational institutions focus on providing opportunities for students from underrepresented student populations, but without putting in place additional support, many students do not have the means to engage in those opportunities. Additional former student speakers throughout the conference built on this by sharing the barriers they faced as adult learners: the financial cost of study; the difficulties involved in securing reliable care for dependents; the logistical challenges of travelling to a place of study; the lack of experience with higher education within their support networks and communities; fear of failure and/or embarrassment; and the lack of understanding around key academic skills required for successful educational outcomes. 


    What does this mean for Access to HE Diplomas?

    The Access to HE Diploma is a life changing qualification that provides tens of thousands of students the opportunity to access higher education across the country. In 2020-21, 23,865 adults entered higher education after completing an Access to HE Diploma.** The Diploma is designed to give students the means to academically succeed, with study skills embedded throughout the course. At CAVA, all of our Access to HE Diplomas contain a dedicated HE study skills unit so students can develop academic writing, reading, presenting, referencing, and critical thinking skills. There is also some provision to reduce financial barriers to studying: adults can apply for the Advanced Learner Loan for the course fees, with a guaranteed loan “write off” once students complete a higher education course. 


    Shakira’s redefinition of ‘access’ does highlight areas that could be strengthened so that our Access to HE students have both the opportunity and means to engage in education. We invite our providers to reflect on the following aspects of providing the means:

    • Student bursaries: adults studying at Level Three can fall between the cracks of student support – providers often have excellent support in place for 16 to 19 years and for adult higher education students, however, Access to HE students do not fit either category. 
    • Support services: one of the attendees at the QAA conference suggested that providers could consider setting up a college creche for the children of students. This could address the needs of both students who need support with childcare, and provide valuable work experience opportunities for students undertaking childcare studies. 
    • Course delivery: the timing and location of provision can greatly impact students’ ability to engage in their courses. Working in collaboration with their students, many CAVA providers have adjusted their delivery hours to fit around school pick-up and drop-off times; evening and weekend delivery for those working full-time; and offering hybrid delivery to allow students to catch up on learning where they could not attend.  
    • Catch up services: Shakira shared that a key reason for students dropping out is the fear and embarrassment of falling behind after an unplanned break in learning. In our annual survey, our students often praise the dedication and support of their Access to HE teams who go above and beyond to keep them on track with their studies even when life gets in the way. 


    At CAVA, we look to share good practice among our providers through our Retention Handbook and case studies, which can be found in the CAVA Members’ Area. On an annual basis, we reinvest our surplus funds into special projects to support our members’ student outcomes. For example, in 2020-21, we created our COVID-19 College Support Grants to support our providers’ initiatives to relieve the impact of the pandemic on student retention and achievement. The grants helped fund 725 additional teaching/pastoral hours, 87 digital devices, 14 WiFi dongles, specialist software, wellbeing support, and additional resources for our Access to HE students. This year we are piloting our CAVA Community Pitch which integrates entrepreneurship skills, community action, and environment sustainability into our HE study skills units. We will continue to reflect as an AVA and a membership to explore how we can collectively improve both the opportunity and means for our Access to HE students.


    *Definition provided by Google’s English dictionary, in collaboration with Oxford Languages.

    **Data source: QAA Key Statistics 2020-21

    CAVA Conference 2021

    On Friday 3 December we held our virtual CAVA conference, exploring the theme of ‘The Future of Access to HE’. The schedule was packed with keynote presentations from the QAA, EduFuturists, and Association of Colleges; alongside case study presentations from 6 CAVA Access to HE providers; a panel of former Access to HE students; and talks from our beloved CAVA Student Award winners. We were delighted to have 82 attendees from 39 FE colleges; HE institutions; and educational organisations. We would like to thank all of our fantastic speakers for their fascinating insights.

    Our key takeaway from the conference is that the future of Access to HE Diplomas is bright.

    In terms of the political and educational reform landscape, the Access to HE Diploma has been repeatedly recognised as a valuable qualification in widening participation and meeting local and national skills needs. The QAA is leading the charge to ensure the qualification remains relevant and a high quality option for adults through their ongoing review of the Diploma Specification and grade scheme.

    From the EduFuturists, we received a glimpse into the future of learning. It is anticipated that in the next 10 years technological progress will match that of the past 100 years. It seems the future will involve more personalised and project-based learning, utilising digital assistance and extended reality to bring learning to life. There will be challenges and opportunities to move towards decentralisation.

    From the Association of Colleges we heard about the increase in the number of students with mental ill health and the increasing complexity of students’ experiences. While it paints a concerning view for the future, it was inspiring to hear how colleges are already going above and beyond to support students with counselling and other in-house services. There are also a wide range of resources available which Association of Colleges, The Charlie Waller Trust, and other organisations have come together to help colleges with their thinking around supporting both students and staff.

    The case study talks from our CAVA providers highlighted some excellent practice being implemented across the membership. Members are already engaging with digital tools to enhance their teaching, allowing learning to be more accessible for students who may struggle to attend in person. Virtual reality is being used to bring complex, abstract ideas to life, so that students can better engage. Alongside this technological engagement, it is clear from the case studies that non-digital resources, such as textbooks and libraries, still have an important role to play in building students’ knowledge and utilisation of reliable evidence. Personal support from teaching and pastoral tutors can make all the difference in keeping students engaged and achieving. What came across in all the talks was a willingness to be brave, experiment, learn from mistakes, and the importance of peer sharing and support.

    Ultimately, the future is bright because we have fantastic students engaging in our courses. Both our student panelists and the CAVA Student Awards demonstrated the incredible dedication, perseverance, and commitment of our students. The passion of our academic teams shone through in each award winner, showing how putting the right support in place can enable and empower our students to achieve their aspirations.

    Once again, the CAVA team would like to thank all of our speakers and all of our attendees for their engagement in the day. We hope to see you again in person in 2022!

    CAVA Members can now access all of the conference recordings and resources in the Resources section of CAVA Members Area. Contact CAVA at if you have any problems accessing the CAVA Members Area.

    CAVA Higher Education Fair – Recordings and Resources

    Thank you to everyone who managed to join us for the CAVA Higher Education Fair, we had a fantastic time and hope that you all enjoyed the presentations and the opportunity to speak with student ambassadors. Below we have put together some recordings of the presentations for those who missed the Fair or those who want to rewatch.

    Further Resources
  • Preparing for University slides
  • Disability and Wellbeing slides
  • Student Finance England slides
  • UCAS slides