Posted Friday 11 August 2017
Two outstanding women who have led the Kingston University programme to widen access to higher education, have been recognised for their achievements in the Queen's Birthdays honours list. Nona McDuff OBE and Jenni Woods MBE have led their teams to national acclaim in their work to enable disadvantaged young people to access and thrive in higher education.
The issue of widening participation is an important one. Our starting points and our paths to success aren't all even, and Kingston University is proudly committed to fair access and opportunities for all with the talent to succeed. As a result we are one of the most diverse and vibrant universities in the UK. Our student community spans many ethnicities and all socio-economic groups and includes a significant proportion of care leavers, mature learners, and young people who are the first in their family to go to university.
Encouraging and enabling disadvantaged students to succeed in higher education is a social, cultural and economic imperative. For students already working to overcome a lack of practical, emotional and financial support, the passion and commitment from staff such as Nona McDuff, Jenni Woods and their teams, changes the lives of our students and the people around them.
Nona McDuff said she hoped her recognition in the honours list would shine a light on the important equality and diversity activity being stepped up across British higher education institutions.
"There is still much work to be done though and Kingston University will continue to lead the way in helping students break down the barriers to success." Ms McDuff said.
Jenni Woods, said that as well as ensuring a wider representation of society went on to study at university, providing them with the support to succeed once there was just as important.
"I've always said widening participation doesn't happen in isolation. It should run through the whole institution and that's what we've been so successful in implementing here at Kingston," Ms Woods said. "I love my job as I really feel the work we do has a tangible impact on people's lives - what better reason can you have to go to work in the morning, working with a team that is so committed and believes so strongly in what we do."
Some of the students helped by Nona McDuff, Jenni Woods and her team have added their congratulations for this recognition.
"They gave great advice when I really needed it. When I was panicking the most about my situation, I knew that I could always turn to them when my friends were busy and stressed with their courses. They really helped me figure out some stuff that was too overwhelming to think about on my own. It's absolutely fantastic that all Jenni's hard work has been recognised!" – Final year BA Creative Writing and Drama student
"KU Cares is an extremely thoughtful and very nurturing department of Kingston University. The staff think and look after you even when you're not thinking of yourself. With them, all your thoughts, ideas and feelings are supported; and your wellbeing is the priority. An MBE is awarded to those making distinguished or notable contributions in their own specific areas of activity. Jenni and her team have made a huge contribution to our university life by ensuring we can all live comfortably, be supported and be happy. They really deserve this!" – Second year BSc Biomedical Sciences student
"KU cares made me realise that I am not alone out there, they supported me in various ways. It gave me a sense of community with other students from similar backgrounds, as well as making me feel valued by just checking on me every now and then with a call! A great team, including the new additions too!" – Second year Criminology and Psychology student