UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences


Elise Polley

Elise Polley is our Faculty’s Widening Participation Officer.

Elise Polley

3 October 2023

When did you join UCL and where were you before?

I joined UCL in August 2022. Before UCL I worked as the Projects Outreach Officer for Make Happen, the Essex Partnership of the Uniconnect Programme hosted at the University of Essex. I started with Make Happen as an Outreach Assistant before being promoted to Officer. 

Tell us about your work at UCL - how do you spend your days, and what makes your role different to similar positions elsewhere?

Most of my days are spent liaising with departments within MAPS and helping advance our Widening Participation (WP) goals. I work closely with academics to help them with their WP activity as well as helping develop new ideas and strategies to ensure that we are making the best progress on each individual department’s needs. 

This role is much like other widening participation roles but is unique as I sit within the faculty rather than in a central Widening Participation/Outreach team. This allows me to focus our approach on barriers into education which are specific to Maths and Physical Sciences. 

It also allows me to form more meaningful relationships as well as being more available to assist as needed. I also liaise closely with the central team so, while having a specific focus, I can include and benefit from a wider understanding of UCL as a whole. 

What are some of your favourite things about working at UCL? How have you found it different to previous jobs?

I have missed spending time in London as it is such a vibrant place, there is always something going on, something I hadn’t realised I’d missed until I returned. I enjoy working in the MAPS faculty specifically as I get to learn about new things – my background is in sports, so there’s loads for me to learn.

Can you tell us about any current or future projects that you're looking forward to working on?

I have managed to secure funding through various sources to run some exciting activities this year. As part of a group project last year, we have been able to implement a MAPS Access UCL student Moodle page containing useful information for Access students created by current Access students. We have just gained additional funding to continue improving the page and collected additional student insights since the project is a paid opportunity for them. 

This year thank you to the Access Initiative bid we will also be running campus visits for around 300 students, and implementing a new MAPS student ambassador scheme where they will deliver subject tasters based on their degree. 

I am also hoping we will be able to implement a robust evaluation process to help determine the effectiveness of our activities. 

Have you always been based in London? If not, when did you move here, and how did you find adapting to living in London?

Although I was born in London, I grew up in Essex, close to Southend-on-Sea. I later returned to London where I lived while studying at the University of East London. Upon the completion of my degree, I moved back to my family home in Essex where I now have my own place. 

Finally, tell us about your non-work life. Do you have any hobbies, or favourite places to go in London?

I have recently gotten into NFL and support the Atlanta Falcons, so most of my Sundays are spent watching four hours of a game. I am excited to see them play live at Wembley this year. 

I often return to Stratford in London as this is where I was based during university. I find that there is always lots to do. However, I do also spend time in central and like seeing musicals when I can. 

My favourite place is at home with a cat on my lap.