Access and Widening Participation


Black students

UCL recognises that Black students can face additional barriers when it comes to accessing and succeeding in Higher Education. We are committed to increasing our intake of students from this group.

Black femme looking  UCL student wearing a blue T-shirt. She is talking to a visitor at an open day. A sign behind her reads UCL faculty of mathematical sciences

UCL recognises that social and educational inequalities in the UK put Black students at a disadvantage compared to their peers from most other ethnic groups when it comes to accessing Higher Education and applying to selective universities.

We aim to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity of entering UCL, regardless of their background.

At UCL, although representative when considered nationally, we recognise that our Black student intake does not entirely reflect the demographic profile of London and the South East, from where we draw a large proportion of our intake. Therefore, increasing the intake of Black students is a priority target for our Access and Widening Participation work.

On this page:

Black students: definition of terms

In the context of our widening participation programmes, we define Black students as those who self-identify as being from one of the following Black or Mixed Black ethnic backgrounds:

  • Black British
  • Black African
  • Black British African
  • Black Caribbean
  • Black British Caribbean
  • Other Black backgrounds
  • Mixed – Black African or Black British African AND any other ethnic group
  • Mixed – Black Caribbean or Black British Caribbean AND any other ethnic group
  • Mixed – Other Black background AND any other ethnic group

We are aware that ethnic group classifications can vary across the UK and different classification terms may be used in Northern Ireland and Scotland, such as Scottish African or British African. The list above is the current list we use in the context of our programmes.

Access UCL 

Access UCL is our contextual offer scheme for applicants some backgrounds that are underrepresented at UCL. Access UCL eligible applicants that are successful in receiving an offer from UCL, will receive an offer that is lower than the standard entry requirements for the programme.

You can find out more about Access UCL, check your eligibility and contact the Access UCL team by going to the Access UCL webpage.

Events and activities

We encourage Black students who attend a UK state school or college to apply to any of our widening participation activities, as long as you meet the specified criteria. Due to being one of our target groups, applications from eligible Black students will be given additional consideration for programmes that are oversubscribed.

So whether you want to have a taste of university life, get tips on the application process or learn more about the different subjects on offer, make sure you submit an application to one or more of our programmes.

Please also note our general eligibility criteria.  All of our widening participation activities are free of charge.

Additionally, we also offer some activities specifically targeted at Black students:

  • Envision UCL: is a programme of free in-person events exclusively for students of Black African and Black Caribbean heritage in Year 10, who are interested in learning more about university.
  • Become is a one-day event for Year 9 and 10 students of African-Caribbean descent or Mixed Black backgrounds to explore the prospect of going to university and studying medicine. 

The UCAS application - 'tick the box' (if applicable)

From this year, UCAS has introduced a new section in the university application that contains widening participation questions to support: 

  • Estranged students 
  • Students with caring responsibilities 
  • Students with parenting responsibilities 
  • Students from UKAF families (Service children) 
  • UKAF Service leavers/veterans 
  • Refugees/asylum seekers/those with limited leave to remain 
  • Those eligible for free school meals 

If any of these categories apply to you, we strongly encourage you to indicate this in your UCAS application. This information is treated confidentially and only shared with those responsible for arranging support and helping you with your application. Knowing about your circumstances may also help admissions staff consider your achievements in context - it won’t reflect negatively on your application and is just there to make sure you get the right support.

Further step-by-step guidance about applying to UCL and making your UCAS application can be found on our How to Apply and UCAS Explained pages.

Financial support

UK domiciled Black students will generally be able to access Student Finance support, which includes loans to cover tuition fees and living costs while studying. There are also other funding opportunities available to prospective students, such as scholarships and bursaries. Please visit the UCL Student Funding page for more information about Student Finance, scholarships and other funding options.

There are some scholarships and bursaries with applications exclusively open to Black students. For example:

Support available at UCL

If you are applying to UCL, or currently studying at UCL, and would like to learn more about the various forms of support UCL has to offer Black and other ethnic minority students, then please visit UCL Student Support and Wellbeing dedicated webpage. If you have any questions or concerns, or would just like to speak to someone in person, please contact UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

The Black and Minority Ethnic Students' Network, based in the UCL Students’ Union, represents the views of students at UCL who self-define as BME, including but not limited to, students with African, Asian, Arab, Caribbean and Indigenous heritages. This involves meetings to discuss issues that affect the network, running of campaigns and projects, and attending socials.

Other sources of information and support

The below organisations also offer information and support that may be useful to Black Students:

  • With Insight Education offers mentoring for black-heritage pupils to help them successfully apply to top universities and progress into professional careers.
  • Generating Genius supports students from African and Caribbean backgrounds to gain key skills to thrive in the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). 
  • Leading Routes is a platform that celebrates Black students and academics in higher education. They deliver one day events to inform and support prospective students to make informed decisions and navigate higher education at all stages.
  • 2020Change is a youth empowerment organisation that runs self-development and mentoring programmes as well as events and workshops to inform, raise aspirations and build skills for young people.
  • Mentivity is an inspirational mentoring organisation and alternative educational provision that aims to provide aspirational support for young people, schools and parents through 1:1 mentoring and group conversation-based learning.
  • 10000 Interns Programme runs a paid internship programme for black students. They match each student with a paid internship in a sector of their interest, and support them with pre-internship training and development.
  • The Amos Bursary aims to enable and encourage UK male students with family connections to Africa or the Caribbean, to pursue their undergraduate study at UCL. 5 awards are available for the Amos Bursary UCL Scholarship.

If you are an organisation providing support to Black students aged 16-24 and you would like to be listed here, please contact us on wp.pre16@ucl.ac.uk.