Widening Participation - Guidelines for Good Practice

contact: Katy Redfern, Head of Access, Student and Registry Services

Good Practice

Through its widening participation activity, UCL seeks to develop as a 21st Century university engaged with society, transforming through education the lives of people drawn from all sections of the community by remaining true to its core academic values, central to which is the pursuit of excellence. UCL’s widening participation strategy targets under-represented groups, working with students at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. At primary and early secondary, the focus is on aspiration-raising activity, while work with Year 10 students and above concentrates on supporting students to develop the skills and confidence needed to make successful applications to highly-selective universities. There are five aims that underpin the 2013 – 17 widening participation strategy. These reflect the breadth of UCL’s ambition in its widening participation work.

The aims are:

  • Aspiration -To raise awareness of higher education through a comprehensive range of aspiration-raising activities.
  • Attainment and Admission - To enhance the diversity of UCL’s student body by identifying, supporting and admitting the brightest students from under-represented backgrounds.
  • Retention - To enable those entering UCL from under-represented backgrounds to make a smooth transition to university study.
  • Evidence and Research - To promote an evidence-based approach to widening participation activity.
  • Promotion - To position UCL as a leader in the field and to achieve recognition for UCL’s contribution to the widening participation agenda

Widening participation activities are co-ordinated by the Access and Admissions Office, Student and Registry Services, and carried out both centrally and by academic departments.

Good practice in widening participation centrally means:

  • work with teachers, including conferences and workshops
  • work with pupils including visits to UCL and activities in schools and colleges
  • work with parents, families and carers who might be unfamiliar with higher education
  • work with external partners like supplementary schools, community groups and charitable organisations to support under-represented groups
  • residential and non-residential summer schools
  • UCL students acting as role models through a variety of schemes
  • training of and increasing awareness among admissions tutors
  • using the Web as a means of widening participation
  • schemes to retain students, in particular a comprehensive Transition programme
  • use of UCL's academic collections to reach out to younger pupils
  • monitoring and targeting of activity to ensure UCL is working with appropriate groups.

Good practice in widening participation in academic departments means:

  • adhering to and advancing UCL's widening participation strategy
  • work with teachers, including conferences and workshops
  • work with pupils including visits, workshops, masterclasses, shadowing and work placements
  • short courses that stretch and inspire students
  • ensuring training of Admissions Tutors and other staff concerned with interviewing and admissions in cultural awareness and widening participation issues
  • making use of information on applicants' educational background supplied by the Access and Admissions Office
  • monitoring the constitution of the home undergraduate intake in respect of a number of aspects of students‘ background
  • seeking advice from the Access and Admissions Office when developing outreach and undergraduate recruitment events and targeting schools and colleges for activities or publicity.

December 2014