NNECL Symposium: call for abstracts

New research insights on care-experienced students in higher education

Date: 28th April 2023 – 10am to 4pm
Venue: The Circle, Sheffield
Academic convenors: Neil Harrison (Exeter), Katie Ellis (Sheffield) and Zoe Baker (York)

The last ten years have seen a rapid growth in research focusing on the pathways, experiences and outcomes of care leavers and other care-experienced students in higher education.  The purpose of this one-day symposium is to bring together researchers to share their current work and to set the scene for the next phase of research.  We also hope that the event will offer an opportunity for delegates to build new connections with active researchers in the field.

Since the mid-2010s, we have begun to understand much more about how care-experienced students engage with higher education.  However, this field of research is still very much in its infancy, with many more opportunities for discovery and insight.  Research is particularly important at the current time, with policy developments that need to be grounded in a strong evidence base.  Topics of interest for the symposium include the following, although this is not intended to be an exhaustive list:

  • Access to higher education, including links with schools and FE colleges
  • The role of virtual schools, leaving care teams and social workers
  • Experiences of entering, being in and leaving higher education
  • Understanding student retention and success
  • Progression to postgraduate study or graduate employment
  • Returning to higher education for older care-experienced learners
  • Policy analysis, including the role of the Independent Review.

We are particularly keen to receive abstracts based on research that breaks new ground, for example, by focusing on phases of higher education that have not previously been explored, employing novel methodological approaches or developing new theoretical or conceptual frameworks.

Format of sessions

Sessions will last 20 minutes plus 10 minutes for questions and discussion.  Depending on the submissions that we receive and accept, we aim to group sessions into focused themes.


Please submit an abstract of up to 250 words by 5pm (UK time) on Monday 6th March to [email protected].  Abstracts should provide an overview of the proposed content, including the theoretical and methodological approaches used.  We welcome abstracts from doctoral students and early career researchers, as well as from established academics.  We aim to respond to abstracts by Monday 13th March.

Image by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

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