Access and Widening Participation


Spotlight on... Cadence Kinsey, from the Department of History of Art

Discover Cadence's experience establishing a more comprehensive Widening Participation programme for the Department of History of Art.

What is your role and how long have you been at UCL? 

Hello. My name is Cadence Kinsey. I am a Lecturer in the Department of History of Art and I joined UCL in September 2019 after three years at the University of York. In the department, I have responsibility for Admissions and Careers, and thinking about widening participation is relevant to both of these roles. 

Why did you get involved with Widening Participation? 

I am making Widening Participation a significant part of my role at UCL for two reasons. The first is that, as Admissions Tutor, I take very seriously the idea that we must make our programmes and processes accessible to all. This is both for the benefit of those who study with us, or are thinking about it, as well as for the departmental community as a whole and even the discipline itself. There are significant barriers to access associated with a subject like History of Art, as well as with prestigious institutions such as UCL, and I strongly believe that we must do everything we can to overcome these if we want our subjects to thrive and to continue to develop in new directions. We need to support the next generation! The second reason is more personal: coming from a WP background myself, I know how challenging such an environment can feel and so I wanted to use my experience to support others who might be thinking about following a similar path. 

What did you get out of it? 

I am right at the beginning of establishing a more comprehensive WP programme for our department. This means that, currently, I am immersed in the research stage, finding out what other departments across the College and the UK are doing, looking at the admissions data, and reading the WP literature. So, although I have yet to see what kind of impact any activities might have, I have already learnt a huge amount not only about UCL as an institution – its processes, its systems, and its values – but also about universities in the UK more generally. It seems to me that issues related to WP actually go right to the heart of what we imagine the role of the university in society to be, and having the chance to really engage with that in a sustained and focused way has been fascinating.  

Any advice for someone considering getting into Widening Participation? Or, on the fence about initiating a WP project? 

There is no doubt that establishing or expanding a WP programme is going to mean extra work for individual departments. But, as the benefits are wide-ranging and far outweigh the challenges, I do think that departments will recognise and support this kind of work. Remember that a WP programme doesn’t have to mean numerous resource-heavy activities – you don’t have to do everything! A few targeted interventions, which can often be quite straightforward to action, can make a real difference. After undertaking the research into the specific WP-related challenges facing our department, I realised that there were actually lots of simple things that we could be doing straight away, such as better signposting to career pathways and transferrable skills on our webpages or flagging up forms of support available to potential applicants. The key is to do the research so that you know where to focus your efforts. 

 What is your next WP project? 

As well as some of the signposting work described above, I am currently working with some of my colleagues on developing our outreach provision. Currently, our department runs a masterclass session every spring, which is supported by the central WP team. However, in 2020-21, we want to expand on this to run a taster module for year 12 students who might be interested in finding out more about what it is like to study History of Art at university. The hope is that this can run across several weeks, giving us as a department the opportunity to really build a dialogue with the students, introduce them to all the incredible facilities at UCL and in the local area, and set aside dedicated time to offering support with the admissions and application process.