A new global initiative to address inequalities in access to higher education (HE) is being launched in Kuala Lumpur today. The first World Access to Higher Education Day (WAHED) will be on November 28th 2018. The aim of WAHED is to create a platform which raises global awareness around inequalities in access to HE and acts as a catalyst for international, regional and local action. WAHED is being led by the National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) in the UK and supported by NCUK, the trading arm of the Northern Consortium Charity.

As the Director of NEON, Dr. Graeme Atherton, states:


In every country in the world where we have evidence it shows that access to HE is unequal. There is an urgent need to address the inequality at the heart of HE across the world and we hope that WAHED can become a vehicle to do this.

Ken Gill, NCUK CEO, added:

The Northern Consortium was formed over 30 years ago by a group of innovative universities to increase access to higher education for international students. Every university has a role to play in widening participation. To support this initiative will give all involved a platform to raise awareness and work together to address the issues.

WAHED will be built around a series of hub conferences across the world on the 28th November this year with a worldwide ‘HE access & diversity slam’ where organisations and individuals across the world can showcase innovative access & diversity activities in their own countries on the day and associate/brand them with WAHED.

Aston University Birmingham supports World Access to Higher Education Day:

At Aston, widening participation is at the heart of what we do to ensure the very best outcomes for all our students. Widening participation isn’t just about supporting students from the UK, it’s about providing opportunities for all to take part in education which is life changing.

Professor Helen Higson, OBE DL Provost and Deputy Vice Chancellor of Aston University


The Northern Consortium’s core charitable object is the advancement of education which it pursues through the activities of NCUK, and directly through the provision of scholarships, awards and investments in the international education market. As a founding member, the University of Sheffield is actively involved in these ever- evolving initiatives year round.

Dr Malcolm Butler, University of Sheffield, Director NCUK and Trustee of the Northern Consortium.

There will also be a global student voices campaign capturing the stories of students from diverse communities. It is hoped that the 1st WAHED can also be the springboard to launch a new Global Higher Education Access & Diversity Consortium of organisations committed to reducing inequalities in access to HE.

To find out more about how you or your organisation can become involved in the 1st WAHED please go to