World Access to Higher Education Day

(in association with University World News) present: 

WAHED24 – A Global Conference Series

This event took place on 17th November to celebrate World Access to Higher Education Day


WAHED24 Global Conference Series – Tuesday 17th November

Following a successful launch event held remotely on 27th July, we hosted our third World Access to Higher Education Day (WAHED) for 2020.

This took the form of a global conference series – WAHED24, based around ‘Access and Success in the Post Pandemic world’ and featured a series of six events, each led by an organisation active in promoting equity in higher education within their own continent. All events were recorded and will be uploaded as they become available.

Click here to view video recording

12:00 – 14:00 Australia Eastern Daylight Time (01:00 – 03:00 GMT)

The Australasia Conference was the first conference in our WAHED24 Global Conference Series. It was led by the Equity Practitioners in Higher Education Australasia (EPHEA) & National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE). Both organisations have supported World Access to Higher Education Day since its foundation in 2018 and are at the forefront of widening access work throughout Australasia.

The first conference of the day considered how equity practitioners have made a difference to learners’ higher education journeys and celebrated some of the outstanding work that has been undertaken during the past twelve months. With contributions from Professor Sally Kift, President of the Australian Learning and Teaching Fellows (ALTF), current students and practitioners this offered an excellent start, and celebration for WAHED 2020. Event recording coming soon.

 Click here to view video recording

Access and Success for Marginalised Groups in Asian Higher Education 11:00 – 14:00 Singapore time (GMT 03:00 – 06:00)

The Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) is an intergovernmental, not-for-profit organisation which brings together the peoples of Asia and Europe to address common global challenges, including access to, and success within, higher education. This event introduced perspectives from Asia on current and emerging challenges of COVID-19 related to access and success for marginalised sectors in higher education. Delegates considered the impact of the pandemic on marginalised groups in higher education in Asia, heard about some of the lessons learned and how to rebuild a better, more equitable higher education system.

Keynote speakers included:

  • HE J. Prospero DE VERA III, Chairperson, Philippine Commission on Higher Education
  • Prof Chanita RUKSPOLLMUANG, Vice President for Academic Development, Siam University; Chairman, Committee of National Education Council, Office of the Education Council, Thailand
  • Dr Chantavit SUJATANOND, Director, Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation, Regional Centre for Higher Education and Development (SEAMEO RIHED)
  • Ms Cynthia C CHANG, Head, Office of Service-Learning & Community Engagement, Centre for Experiential Learning, College of Lifelong & Experiential Learning, Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), Singapore
  • Dr Edizon FERMIN, Vice President for Academic Affairs, The National Teachers College; Strategic Planning Consultant for the Commission on Higher Education, The Philippines
  •  Mr Anthony GARTNER, Manager, Equity and Diversity, La Trobe University, Australia.
A full recording of the event will be available soon 



10:00 – 12:00 Eastern African Time (07:00 – 09:00 GMT)

The University of Nairobi is a research intensive university with a reputation for excellence and a strong and vibrant research culture. We are excited to announce that they are the lead organisation for the African conference of the WAHED Global Conference Series.

Alongside a keynote speech from the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen Kiama, the conference featured sessions from Open Dreams (Cameroon) – A member of the HALI Access Network and input from the All-Africa Students Union (AASU). The event also featured a session chaired by Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), drawing on their recent policy brief on digital engagement in Commonwealth universities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keynote speakers included:

  • Professor Stephen G. Kiama, Vice Chancellor, University of Nairobi
  • Akaba James, Open Dreams
  • Naomi Alabi, Diaspora Relations, AASU
  • Professor Maud Kamatenesi Mugisha, Vice Chancellor, Bishop Stuart University
  • Mr George Ananga, East Africa Representative, Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU)

Click here to view video recording

Click here to view the presentations

11:30 – 14:00 (GMT)

The National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) is the professional organisation supporting those involved in widening access to higher education (HE) in the United Kingdom. NEON enables those working to widen access to HE at all levels and in all sectors to affect change in their own organisations and communities and is the lead organisation in World Access to Higher Education Day.

Keynote included:

  • Roberta Melee-Bassett, Global Lead for Tertiary Education and Senior Education Specialist, World Bank.
  • Joanna Newman, Chief Executive and Secretary General, Association for Commonwealth Universities
  • Francisco Marmelajo, Education Advisor, Qatar Foundation for Education, Health and Community Development.
  • Martina Darmanin, Vice President, European Students’ Union.
  • Elmar Pichl, Director General of Higher Education, Austrian Ministry of Education, Science and Research.
  • Sir Les Ebdon CBE DL, Chair of NEON and former Director of Office for Access (OFFA) – UK
  • Dr Graeme Atherton, Director of NEON.



10:00 – 12:00 US Eastern Time (15:00 – 17:00 GMT)

Ensuring equity in higher education during a global pandemic

This section of the Global Conference Series was led by The Lumina Foundation. The Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. We envision a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. Our goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.

This conference opened with a discussion of the hardships faced by under-represented students globally because of COVID-19 and the effectiveness of policies and practices put in place to help protect them.  It was followed by a panel of U.S. higher education leaders who discussed the specific measures they have put in place since the outbreak to support the access and success of their low-income and students of color.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Dr Courtney Brown, Vice President of Strategic Impact, The Lumina Foundation.
  • Jamil Salmi, Global Tertiary Education Expert.
  • Carol Grode-Hanks, vice President for Academics at Mitchell Technical Institute
  • Jada Hebra, Senior VP and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Southern New Hampshire University
  • Julian Ledesma, Executive Director, Centers for Educational Equity and Excellence at UC Berkeley

14:30 – 17:30 Venezuelan Standard Time (18:30 – 21:30 GMT)

Inequalities in Access to Higher Education by Disadvantaged Populations in the Latin American and Caribbean Region in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

The UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC) was created by the UNESCO General Conference in 1997. It is the sole specialized institute of the United Nations system with the mission to contribute to the improvement of higher education in member States. One of its five priority areas is equity and inclusion.

Keynote speakers:

  • Francesc Pedro – Director of UNESCO IESALC
  • Alta Hooker – Rector, Universidad de las Regiones Autónomas de la Costa Caribe Nicaragüense
  • Sir Hilary Beckles – Vice Chancellor, University of the West Indies
  • Sandra Goulart de Almeida – Rector, Universidad de Minas Gerais
  • Marcelo Knobel – Rector, Universidad Estatal de Campinas
  • Rodrigo Arim – Rector, Universidad de la República, Uruguay

The event also saw the release of a new report, “Towards Universal Access to Higher Education: International Trends”.