Text provided by Gagan Chaggar, from the University of West London, for the UniTasterDays Teachers' Guide to University.
Universities are keen to support you with
your school priorities, such as supporting
attainment and aspirations, and providing
guidance and opportunities for learners who are
underrepresented in higher education.
As a former secondary teacher, I wish I had known about these great opportunities. So to support you, I have included some information below.
Widening Participation focuses on supporting learners from under-represented groups in higher education, who may miss out on the opportunity to progress their education. It’s all about addressing inequalities and priorities in groups and communities, and exploring options in the world of university, apprenticeships and work.
Universities create Access and Participation
Plans (also known as APPs) which outline how
they will improve equality of opportunity through
widening participation and fair access, as
directed by our regulator, the Office for Students
(also known as OfS).
The Office for Students ask universities specifically to ‘improve equality of opportunity for underrepresented groups to access, succeed in and progress from higher education’. This work varies for many universities, but we are all directed to deliver projects with thorough evaluations and impact measures.
Department names for those delivering this activity usually contain some, or a combination, of the following words and teams:
• Access and Participation
• Schools and Colleges
• Widening Access/Participation
Here is an idea of what universities offer, based
around University of West London activities:
- Long term projects: Young People’s
Lectures development programme,
National Saturday Clubs, Storytelling
projects, in specific settings such as Pupil
- For specific groups: care leaver cooking sessions, mature learner programmes, specific projects aimed at working-class communities.
- Career development activities: work experience for widening participation students, discover university days, subject taster days.
- Ad hoc programmes: working with local schools, colleges, councils, community and voluntary organisations to develop reactive programmes.
If you have an idea for a project, please do contact a university as there may be flexibility in their offering.
Widening participation teams work with those
who meet specific criteria, as set by the Office
for Students and universities. As an example,
this includes the following for the University of
• young people from a working-class background
• learners eligible for free school meals.
• disabled learners
• mature learners
• care leavers and looked after children
• young and adult carers
• learners with no parental/carer history of higher education in the UK
• learners from the Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller backgrounds
• refugees and asylum seekers
Remember, even if you know your students do not have an interest in going to university, you can still engage in activities.
A quick internet search should reveal your
local universities. Then visit these universities’
websites for details about their outreach,
widening participation or schools/college
work. You can also browse opportunities on
UniTasterDays which is a national directory
of university opportunities for schools.
You can contact them to generally connect or with a specific request. Also, get signed up for any newsletters and pass these links onto other relevant people at your institution.
I strongly recommend seeking out teacher networking opportunities with universities as a great way of meeting people, receiving innovative continuing professional development and supporting your most vulnerable learners.
This free newsletter will include information on university events added to UniTasterDays, as well as details about new webinars and blog releases for you and your students.
posted on 27 Nov '23
Applying to university is one of the biggest decisions that a student will make and supporting them through this process might seem daunting for you. This short guide will provide you with an overview of the admissions process and highlight some of the important aspects and key dates to be aware of.
by Jon Cheek
posted on 27 Nov '23
Applying to university is one of the biggest decisions that you will make and that might seem really daunting right now. This short guide will provide you with an overview of the admissions process and highlight some of the important aspects and key dates to be aware of.