Access and Widening Participation


UCL holds dedicated event series for Year 12 and 13 pupils from underrepresented backgrounds

18 January 2024

‘Experience UCL’, an event series run by the UCL Access and Widening Participation team, concluded last month after a successful series of events aimed at making higher education more accessible for young people from underrepresented backgrounds.

An image showing UCL front quad with Experience UCL written above it

Experience UCL consisted of 4 dedicated events run separately for each priority group or related groups: care experienced and estranged students; young carers; forced migrants and students with disabilities. Attendees gained valuable insights into navigating the university application process and learned about UCL’s contextual admissions scheme, Access UCL, as well as hearing from current students who are themselves from underrepresented backgrounds.

One participant from the Young Carer event said:

Thank you for hosting such an amazing event. I really enjoyed my day learning about all the support available for people like me and learnt so much about how finances work at university. I really appreciate the efforts of everyone who made the event possible.”

At these events attendees had the opportunity to learn about the wide range of student support available at UCL, ranging from academic assistance within departments to peer support through Transition Mentors, career prospects via the Careers Extra programme, and the dedicated mental health and wellbeing provision by Student Support and Wellbeing.

Apart from learning about the more general support available to all students at UCL, each session was also tailored to the specific priority group, giving students a chance to learn more about the specific support and options available to those in their circumstances. This included information about targeted funding opportunities such as scholarships and bursaries, or an overview of the Disabled Students’ Allowance and how this could help with any additional study costs incurred in relation to a disability. 

Participants also had the chance to engage with current UCL students who were supporting the events as Student Ambassadors. Through personal stories, campus tours, and shared moments, these ambassadors provided invaluable glimpses into life at UCL, fostering a sense of community and belonging among the participants.

One of the attendees said:

The Campus tour and student support talks for care leavers and estrangement were very informative and applicable to me. The campus tour was lovely and makes me want to attend UCL.”

Whilst another participant said:

When I put my hand up to ask a question, I liked the fact that my voice was heard, and my question was answered.”

Jalal Pour, UCL Senior Widening Participation Officer (Priority Groups), said:

I’m really pleased with how this series of Experience UCL has gone. We’ve engaged with over 40 young people from across some of the Access and Widening Participation Office’s key priority groups, which is a great achievement and testament to the hard work that the team has put into these events. It was fantastic to welcome these young people onto our campus and be able to speak to them about the wide-ranging support that we can offer them here at UCL. We hope our attendees found the events informative and helpful in addressing any questions or concerns that they may have had about going on to higher education. We hope to welcome some of them back to UCL in the future!”

UCL remains committed to diversity, inclusivity, and providing a supportive environment for all students and Experience UCL stands as a direct result of this commitment. UCL will continue to ensure that every student, irrespective of their background, receives the guidance and support they need to thrive in their educational journey.

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