The Team

Louise Higham

Louise HighamLouise is an experienced researcher with a background in supporting progress to higher education. She was co-author of the report for the HEA on ‘the role of HE students in widening access and improving student retention and success’ and recently managed the research team responsible for the HEFCE/OFFA widening participation literature review to inform the national strategy for access and student success.  Louise is familiar with a range of research techniques, including in-depth qualitative studies, for example, she conducted a series of interviews with HE staff as part of a Foundation Year feasibility study at University College London and has recently supported The Open University to deliver a study examining the barriers to engagement in part time learning.

Louise has significant experience of partnership working; she held the role of Information, Advice & Guidance Project Manager for the Aimhigher Greater Manchester partnership where she was responsible for strategic planning, project management and evaluation of a programme of activities and services. Louise’s professional background is in Careers Education & Guidance and she has a particular interest in employability issues, currently working with a national careers service contractor to provide expertise on service provision for graduate level clients.

Joanne Moore

Joanne MooreJoanne is an energetic social researcher with over fifteen years experience in the education and training sectors, latterly in university posts. Joanne’s research areas have always pursued a social justice angle particularly from the perspective of education policy. In recent years she has supported equity of access to higher education, through research and evaluation of widening participation activities, and based on evidence and best practice locally and nationally.

She provided the lead on Aimhigher Greater Manchester programme monitoring, evaluation, reporting, and thematic research activities relevant to the widening participation agenda. She has undertaken a wide range of research and consultancy projects for the education and training sector to support the take-up of learning and skills, retention and achievement. This includes both quantitative and qualitative assignments.

She has written several national reports which evaluated the effectiveness of public programmes, provided guidance and shared best practice.  As the Communities Initiatives EMPLOYMENT programme National Coordinator she was responsible for inputs to policy managers and represented the GB programme on three thematic dissemination projects at European level.

Dr John Sanders

Dr John SandersJohn’s 37 years in education have spanned schools, further, higher and adult education. He has extensive experience at senior management level and was Assistant Director of Aimhigher Greater Manchester until 2011 leading its work on 14-19 reform, looked after children and access to the professions.

Prior to joining Aimhigher in 2006, John was Director of the country’s largest and most successful Open College Network, covering the South Yorkshire and Humberside regions. He has also served as national officer and Board member of the National Open College Network and was honoured by NOCN for his pioneering work in establishing the first Open College Network in Manchester in the early 1980s.

His strong background in research and policy interpretation is matched by operational expertise across many sectors. He has written reports and published articles on various aspects of widening participation, achievement and progression.   For ARC Network he recently co-authored a research synthesis for the Higher Education Academy on the role of HE students in widening access and improving student retention.  He is currently a member of QAA’s Access Recognition and Licensing Committee.

Jo Wiggans

Jo WiggansJo has 25 years experience in higher education as course leader, tutor, and coordinator for student induction and learning support in the Open University and finally as Director of the largest Aimhigher partnership in the country.

Jo led the development of a strong cross-sector partnership in Greater Manchester, involving local authorities, schools, colleges and universities in the planning and delivery of a collaborative programme to benefit progression to higher education for underrepresented groups. She has demonstrated a collegiate approach and understanding of national, local and institutional policy issues related to access to higher education.

Jo has presented at numerous national and regional access to HE/widening participation conferences. Her strengths include analysis of the issues and seeking common group between partners, focusing on core objectives and building in evaluation and dissemination and discussion of outcomes and issues.

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