Access and Widening Participation

What is Widening Participation?

Widening Participation is a government-funded initiative to increase the number of students from under-represented groups participating in higher education. It aims to increase take-up of HE by:
  • raising aspirations
  • encouraging applications
  • ensuring progression, retention and success.

Why does Widening Participation Exist?

There are many young people and adults with the academic potential to enter higher education who, for a variety of reasons, do not currently apply to study at university. This may be due to:
  • low teacher expectation
  • lack of aspiration
  • financial concerns
  • insufficient information

How can we help?

We run aspiration-raising activities for schools and colleges to encourage young people and adults to stay in, or re-enter, a learning environment and to move into higher education.

Activities at Brunel   

  • Higher Education awareness visits (Year 6 - Year 13)
  • Master classes (Year 11 - Year 13)
  • Subject taster days (Year 6 - Year 13)
  • Summer schools (Year 8 - Year 13)
  • Health careers fairs (Year 10)
  • Sports careers fairs (Year 10)

Activities in schools/colleges and community organisations   

  • Higher Education advice talks for students, parents and community groups
  • Preparation for Higher Education workshops
  • Attendance at parents and options evenings
  • Support for regional initiatives
  • Input by academic staff into collaborative events

The Target Groups

We aim our activities at students who demonstrate the potential to achieve the entry requirements for higher education and who meet one or more of the following criteria:
  • Little or no family history of higher education
  • From a school or college with a poor record of entry to higher education
  • From a low income/low participation area
  • Disabled
  • Looked-after by a local authority
  • Have studied vocational courses
We also target widening participation students from ethnic minority and/or gender groups that are under-represented in particular subject areas at Brunel.

Target Areas, Schools and Colleges

We mainly work with schools and colleges with large numbers of widening participation students in the following west London boroughs:
  • Hillingdon
  • Hounslow
  • Brent
  • Ealing
  • Hammersmith and Fulham
  • Harrow

Support for Transition into Higher Education

We work with widening participation students who have applied to Brunel and offer a week long course to prepare students for university life and learning - Headstart Week.

Support for Staying in Higher Education

Widening participation funding is used across the University to encourage specific groups of students to stay in higher education once they have taken the initial step. In particular we work closely with the:
Widening participation officers also contribute to the staff training programme for personal tutors and admission officers at Brunel.

Supporting Success

To help widening participation students to develop essential employability skills and progress to graduate level jobs, we organise:
  • Business mentors from the community for a number of ethnic minority students as part of a National Mentoring Consortium scheme and for other widening participation students as part of the Brunel Widening Participation Professional Mentoring programme.
  • A student ambassador programme, providing training and part-time employment for widening participation students wishing to help with Brunel's widening participation outreach activities.

Partners

AccessHE

Buttle UK (Care Leavers)

Buttle Trust logo

See our Care Leavers page

Useful Links

Brunel's Widening Participation Strategy (2009-12)

Brunel's Widening Participation Strategic Statement (2013-14) (word doc)

Page last updated: Monday 07 April 2014