Access and Widening Participation


UCL celebrates staff commitment to inclusivity at Widening Participation & Student Success Awards 24

21 February 2024

On 1st Feb 2024, UCL hosted its Widening Participation (WP) & Student Success Community of Practice Awards at Bidborough House to celebrate and recognise the outstanding efforts of teams and individuals across UCL to help make it a place for everyone, no matter their background.

crowd at cop awards

Run by the UCL WP & Student Success Community of Practice, the event brought together staff, students and academics from across UCL, including those who have a role in widening participation and student success. 

The evening was a celebration of the work of the nominees and their tireless work towards making UCL more accessible to underrepresented groups. Nominees could be nominated by anyone at UCL, and this was one of the CoP’s most nominated years yet with a tough task set for judges Lucie March, Head of Access & Widening Participation; and Paulette Williams, Head of Student Success.

The six categories and winners included: 

  • Inclusive Practice Award - UCL School of Management (Edyta Kostanek, Maria Gemmell, Maya Cara, Nicola Cockerton, and Noelle Yip) 
    For the team’s dedication, innovative methods, and the tangible positive outcomes they have achieved. Their work not only benefits the current student body but also sets a high standard for future initiatives aimed at fostering inclusivity and success in higher education. 

  • Student Success Award – Julie Evans 
    For Julie’s commitment to the BAME Awarding Gap project since its inception in 2018, leveraging her long experience at UCL and deep understanding of how the institution works to develop resources and a framework for the project. Without Julie's dedication, the project would not have had this institution-wide recognition and the impact that it has had. 

  • Practitioner Award – Rupa Lakhani 
    For Rupa’s commitment and dedication to WP within the Medical School. Thanks to her hard work and continued improvements, WP has not only expanded, but the students recruited for the Target Medicine Mentoring Scheme are now regularly applying to UCL Medical School, which many young people never thought was a possibility. 

  • Student Award - PhD Students or Early Career Researcher - Christian Lao 
    For Christian’s unparalleled dedication, deep sense of kindness and sheer breadth of impact on WP school students throughout his PhD. Christian has successfully led projects including the Mullard Space Science Laboratory Space Science Week and the Orbyts programme. 

  • Widening Access Award – Kimberly Schreiber and Rosemary Moore 
    For their tireless efforts and passion in organising WP summer taster sessions for History of Art over the last two years. They have received excellent feedback from students, who have appreciated the inclusive environment the tasters have offered, the knowledge they have gained, and the opportunity to meet and think with other young people. 

  • Community Engagement Award – Scott Chiesa 
    For Scott’s enthusiasm and hard work in widening participation to research and higher education, and the cultural shift this has brought about within the Institute of Cardiovascular Science. Scott has supported students as part of the In2Science programme and has also persuaded staff from across the institute to host students and run activities. 

  • People’s Choice Award - Tina Nyazika, UCL Medical School 
    For Tina’s unwavering commitment to providing advice, guidance and support to Target medicine events. She has also sought opportunities to engage and empower UCL medical students in widening participation work, embedding a culture of support and equity.

Dr Julie L Evans, Student Success Award winner; Faculty Tutor Brain Science and Co-Lead UCL UG  BAME Awarding Gap project, said: 

I have been working on the BAME Awarding Gap project for around 5 years and it was great to see this work recognised. Over that time, we have seen a decrease in the awarding gaps for both 1st and 2nd class degrees in some faculties. I think the biggest achievement has been raising awareness of this issue which has led to action being taken to reduce the gap and encouraged the consideration of inclusive teaching and assessments as business as usual and not something ‘extra’ we could do.

This is a great example of central services, faculty and students working together to achieve a goal. I hope the Student Success teams working with faculties continue to succeed in the next phase of this project.” 

julie evans pictured with award

Rupa Lakhani, Practitioner Award winner and Senior Access Officer, UCL Medical School, said: 

UCL is an incredible place, with so many colleagues and students leading incredible work to widen access to higher education. To be selected for the Practitioner Award amongst this group is truly humbling and especially meaningful to receive just before I change careers after 12 years working in Widening Access and Student Success.

My team of staff and students were there to cheer me on, and the award happened to be presented to me by a good friend with whom I started my career in WP. It was a full circle moment and felt special to be recognised when working so hard and passionately behind the scenes to create change.” 

Lauren Gillett, one of the event organisers and WP & Student Success COP leads, said: 

The UCL Widening Participation and Student Success Community of Practice Awards was a chance for us to come together as a community and celebrate the fantastic work being done across UCL. We saw so many nominations, from impactful projects to individual efforts, and it was great to recognise the commitment of so many colleagues to inclusivity.

We really want to thank everyone who came, contributed, nominated or were a part of the awards and invite them to keep being involved with our Community of Practice. Thanks for contributing to another successful year, and we look forward to 2025." 

Attendees heard from first generation students, students who had previously attended UCL’s Access and Widening Participation events, academics, and colleagues from across UCL, who recounted the work of the winner and runner-up in each category and the background to their nomination for the award. Nominees came from all over UCL, emphasising just how embedded Access and Widening Participation is in the DNA of UCL.

The keynote speaker for the evening was Professor Antony Smith, Vice-Provost (Faculties), who formerly held a key role in Widening Participation when he was the Vice-Provost (Education & Student Affairs). His speech highlighted the importance of the work, often voluntary, that takes place behind the scenes at UCL in order to facilitate the university’s Widening Participation and Access offering, as well the work that then goes into student success, ensuring all students have an equal chance to flourish at UCL. 

crowd at cop awards

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