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The University of South Wales – supporting the Armed Forces community

The University of South Wales – supporting the Armed Forces community

The University of South Wales (USW) is a leading Higher Education Institution (HEI) in the UK and Wales across many aspects of Armed Forces (AF) engagement, including serving and ex-AF personnel, their spouses and children.

Case study completed by:

Dr. Ross Hall – Armed Forces Champion and Director of Strategic Partnerships: Armed Forces and Veterans (The University of South Wales)

Rebecca Bowen – Senior Student Recruitment Officer - Manager of the widening participation sub-team (The University of South Wales)

Rebecca Breen – Student Recruitment Officer - Lead for Service children widening participation activity (The University of South Wales)

Lisa Taylor - Director of Initial Teacher Education (The University of South Wales)

Kathryn Matthews – Head of Admissions (The University of South Wales)

Caitlin Woodland – Regional School Liaison Officer for Service children in East Wales (Newport City Council and SSCE Cymru)


 How does USW provide support to the Armed Forces community?


1. Has identified an Armed Forces Champion

2. Has signed the Armed Forces Covenant

3. Includes Service children in Fee & Access Plan

4. Co-leads the SCiP Alliance Hub Cymru

5. Runs a Creative Forces Day

6. Has identified Service children studying at USW

7. Has committed to including Service children into the teacher training curriculum.


1. Has identified an Armed Forces Champion

USW was the first University in the UK to have a designated Armed Forces Champion (AFC). Dr. Ross Hall has been instrumental in leading the coordination of the activities outlined in this case study.

As a result of the AFC activities, USW won the Defence Employers Recognition Scheme Gold Award in August 2018. USW was the first in Wales to achieve this accolade and was among the first three HEIs in the UK to be awarded Gold in August 2018. USW is presently providing support to other UK universities in their bids for Defence Employer Recognition Scheme applications and other research projects and bids for external funding.

The AFC also led on the introduction of the USW’s AF Recognition of Prior Learning scheme, which has helped over 450 serving and ex-AF personnel into higher education.

2. Has signed the Armed Forces Covenant

All four main areas of the AF Covenant have been supported by USW, including serving and former members of the AF, their spouses, and children. USW have externally advertised the AF Covenant and both encouraged and given support to other Wales based and UK HEIs to engage with the AF and sign the Covenant.

To reinforce the signing of the AF Covenant, the following actions were taken over the course of six months:

  • The AFC developed a strategic document outlining proposed engagement activities for the University Executive
  • USW held a variety of internal department meetings seeking to change internal policies and procedures to support the AF community, primarily focusing on USW's Fee and Access plan.

“If you are interested in signing the AF Covenant, ideally the first step in engaging is to contact the Regional Employer Engagement Director based at the RFCA in Wales ( This is the first step in demonstrating an on-going commitment to the wider AF community.”

Dr. Ross Hall, USW Armed Forces Champion

3. Includes Service children in Fee & Access Plan

USW’s Fee and Access plan for 2020/21 identifies ‘children from military families’ as one of its under-represented groups, being the first university in Wales to do so.

USW is currently exploring ways of engaging with this under-represented population, and as such in August 2020, USW's UK Student Recruitment Team established a sub-team responsible for developing and delivering targeted activities for students from under-represented groups, as identified in the Fee and Access Plan. One member of the sub-team now leads activities for Service Children.

4. Co-leads the SCiP Alliance Hub Cymru

USW, in partnership with SSCE Cymru, has been successful in gaining Community Covenant funding to establish a Wales-based hub of the Service Children's Progression Alliance (SCiP). This partnership will meet at least twice yearly and both the hub leads sit on the SCiP Alliance Board and Practice Group. Research interests and ideas also continue to be developed with other stakeholders and HEIs across the UK focusing on Service children and their educational journey. Such activities will be developed, delivered, and where appropriate submitted for peer review, to inform good practice and influence relevant government policies.

For further information about how to participate, click here here.

5. Runs a Creative Forces Day

The proposed Creative Forces Day event for Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 learners was postponed in Summer 2020 due to COVID-19. However, the lead for activities in this area has already forged close working relationships with SSCE Cymru and the newly appointed SSCE Cymru Regional School Liaison Officers, and planning is underway for an online Creative Forces Day event in 2021.

"We are really excited to build upon USW's partnership with SSCE Cymru by becoming the first university in Wales to hold a Creative Forces Day event."

Rebecca Breen, USW Student Recruitment Officer

6. Has identified Service children studying at USW

When students with an AF connection apply to study with USW, a note is made on their records so that it can be reported on. Since 2015 USW has placed over 400 students with an Armed Forces background, either currently serving or having served over the past 15 years; on the USW Armed Forces page you can read more about some of these students' experiences.

No data is currently held on Service children’s progression within USW, although the new UCAS process, which introduces a question into the undergraduate application which identifies Service children, will change this. The hope is to develop a UK wide multi-university research bid to gather such data and outline educational outcomes for Service children.

7. Has committed to including Service children into the teacher training curriculum

USW Initial Teacher Education Partnership is committed to including support for service children in their provision for student teachers. This will be included in Professional and Pedagogical Studies and Core Studies modules in sessions where students explore, research, and discuss meeting the needs of all learners, the diverse and changing nature of the school population in Wales, and learners' right to a voice in matters that relate to their lives. These themes will be introduced in Year 1 and revisited in Year 2 and Year 3.

If you represent a HEI who would like to implement the identified actions in order to improve your support for Service children and the Armed Forces community then SSCE Cymru is able to help you with this. Email us at 

Date produced: December 2020

Other organisations

Service children’s quotes

"As soon as we get used to a house, you get moved - I’ve been to four schools and moved six times."


"I lived in Nepal, then we went to Brunei, then Malaysia."


"In my eyes, you have hundreds of friends in different places."


"I’m used to moving now and mixing with the children... I’ve done it so many times, it’s just a normal thing now."


"It's ok talking over skype and that, but sometimes you just want a hug when Dad is away."


"I’ve enjoyed going around to lots of places around the world, it's adventurous and exciting."


"In my eyes, you have hundreds of friends in different places."


"My mum got a chalk board and it says how many sleeps on it with chalk, every minute it’s getting closer for him coming home."


"I don’t want him to get promoted... I want him to get promoted but I don’t want to leave."


"I might be going to boarding school so that I don’t change schools every few years."


"I've been to seven different schools; I’ve not stayed put in one school long enough."


"He has been away for six months and he is back for two weeks, then he goes away again."


"My parents were in the Army. My mum is a like a nurse and my dad went to the war in Afghanistan. I actually didn’t really know what he was doing so I was like, ‘Cool Dad, go there,’ but then I found out and thought, 'Thank God he came back alive.'"


"He signed off last week, so he will be done by the end of this year. He’s done 24 years. I find that better because he will be around a lot. He likes watching us playing rugby, so he will get to see us more."


"I’m going to a new place entirely. They don’t know anything about me and that’s a big restart and that’s really good for me."


"I moved to Wales because my dad was posted in the Army. I thought I would get bullied and I was shy when you meet new people, but I made some friends."