Joanne Tallentire

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Education (2023 cohort)

My research focuses on the experience of disadvantaged students admitted to high tariff universities in England through contextual admissions (CA) policies, which make adjustments in the admissions process for the effect of educational, socio-economic and/or individual disadvantage on students’ prior attainment. Contextual admissions features heavily in education policy discourse as a means to increase access and participation in high tariff universities from under-represented groups. Research on contextual admissions to date has primarily explored the staff perspective, and identified both concerns about students’ academic deficit and institutions’ capacity to give them appropriate support. My study aims to add a new dimension to existing CA research by bringing to the fore the voice of students admitted through CA, exploring the influence of their social identity on the formation of their student identity and focusing particularly on their sense of belonging.

I have worked for three decades in professional services roles in universities in England, most recently in senior roles as head of admissions in two research-intensive universities, including a member of the Russell Group with a strong track record in widening participation. I have worked closely with academic and professional services colleagues on admissions strategy, developed and implemented admissions policies (including contextual admissions), and led large teams responsible for delivering the admissions service to students and staff. In 2013/14 I worked for a short spell as Senior Relationship Manager at UCAS, with leadership for the team supporting higher education providers (HEPs) in the South of the UK and specific responsibility for HEPs in London.

I graduated with a BA (1st class) in German from King’s College, London in 1986 and returned to full-time study at the UCL Institute of Education in 2021/22, where I gained an MA (Distinction) in Policy Studies in Education.

Alongside my research, I am a Governor (with lead responsibility for Curriculum and Quality) at The Sixth Form College, Colchester, and a consultant specialising in admissions on the Association of Higher Education Professionals (AHEP) Consulting team.