By Gino Graziano, FACE Executive Member, Joint Head of Widening Participation, University of Sussex
I am currently Joint Head of Widening Participation at the University of Sussex, and have been in various Widening Participation (WP) roles for 15 years, when I started out at LSE as a Saturday School Assistant. In between LSE and Sussex, I worked for some time at the University of Brighton, and have seen the breadth and depth of effort colleagues across the sector put into making access fairer.
I feel incredibly lucky to work at Sussex. Not only is it based on a beautiful campus in the South Downs, but I am proud that our First-Generation Scholars’ scheme has supported thousands of students through access, success and progression since 2012. Conceived as a lifecycle programme, First-Generation Scholars spans our pre-entry work from primary school, through access to the University (although our pre-entry work is impartial), and a range of measures to help students from underrepresented groups succeed and progress. We aim for students to thrive whilst at University, and also in their lives after higher education.
I am delighted to be a member of the FACE executive board. Since I attended my first FACE conference at Queen’s College Belfast in 2016, I have been fascinated by the Forum’s position in the space between practice and theory. I feel this is a hugely important area, and one that is often overlooked in preference of either/or. For me, learning from the discussions and disseminations happening here is enormously enlightening. Having the chance to contribute to those discussions, and promote this work amongst my colleagues in the sector is equally rewarding. I feel that there is vast knowledge, understanding and experience in widening participation, and FACE offers the opportunity to bring that together, and fuse it into something incredibly powerful that has the potential to change lives.