Ulster University (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2022 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 1942-1943 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-09-45476-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2022.0489
Conference name: 15th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 7-9 November, 2022
Location: Seville, Spain
Ulster University has a large diverse student population and a high proportion of widening access students from the most deprived areas of Northern Ireland. A key remit of the Widening Access and Participation (WAP) Policy and Research Unit at Ulster University is to ensure that the University meets its statutory obligations regarding WAP policy and practice ( During 2021/2022, 37.4% of the undergraduate student population were from the most deprived quintiles.

The University collects and analyses a wide range of student data in compliance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It is required to annually monitor the profile of its students using the Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation Measure (NIMDM), ( The widening access and participation target groups the University monitors are defined within the Access to Success Strategy ( and are agreed annually with government.

These currently include:
- Students from Quintile 1 by NIMDM
- Young Males from Decile 1 by NIMDM
- Students with a Declared Disability
- Students in receipt of Disability Support Allowance
- Adult Learners
- Care Leavers
- Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Groups

Each academic year all available internal and external data sources are used to design new and/or improved interactive dashboards: to inform widening access stakeholders; to ensure effective data informed decision-making related to target setting; for performance monitoring; for learning analytics; to identify areas in need of additional support for students and to ensure that resources are allocated where they are most needed for WAP objectives.

The University has had to adopt more agile approaches during the COVID-19 pandemic and getting access to timely data has become instrumental to help us make appropriate key data informed decisions. University data often needs to be interrogated quickly and efficiently, to address new challenges and answer research questions as they arise for widening access objectives. Dashboards are an effective way of helping us to interpret data promptly, efficiently and effectively. The various WAP stakeholders across the University require different levels and modes of data. Using a collaborative and partnership approach helps us to ensure that the design, collation, interrogation and visualisation of data is robust and meaningful, fit for purpose and appropriately used.

This interactive oral presentation will be organised into two main parts.

During part one, the presenters will share Widening Access and Participation successes during academic year 2021/2022. They will also showcase the range of data sources that were used to help the university better understand our student profiles, student needs and key elements of a range of new or enhanced interactive WAP dashboards which have been created during the last year. Details of challenges encountered along the way and how these were overcome will also be addressed.

During part two opportunities will be provided to compare and share experiences of using data and/or dashboards across other Higher Education Institutions for similar objectives.

This session should be of benefit to those interested in Widening Access and using data for effective decision-making.
Widening Access and Participation, learning analytics, performance monitoring, data informed decision-making, interactive dashboards.