Widening Access and Participation
As well as providing outreach to schools and colleges across the country, the Widening Access and Participation team offer bespoke guidance to students who may need additional support in order to access higher education.
Our Widening Access Officers can meet with students and/or their supporters to discuss the support Edge Hill can offer, and can also arrange bespoke visits to campus. Find out more about the support we can provide for specific students below.
What is widening access and participation?
The terms “widening access” and “widening participation” refer to the activity undertaken by institutions to develop and support the aspirations and attainment of students from different social groups who may not normally consider higher education as an option or are under-represented within higher education.
Groups of students who may be identified in relation to widening access and participation include:
- Students who are or have been eligible for pupil premium funding/Ever6 free school meals.
- Students from low participation neighbourhoods (where very few people go on to higher education).
- Students who are the first generation in their family to go to university.
- Students who have experience of being in the care of their Local Authority.
- Care Experienced and Estranged Students (CEES).
- Students who have caring responsibilities.
- Students living with a disability or mental health condition.
- Students from minority ethnic groups.
- Students who have refugee status.
- Students from military families.
- Individuals who are returning to learning as mature students.
Edge Hill University has a long-standing commitment to widening access to higher education, and the theme of opportunity for all is a key component of the institution’s vision. Our work with students is a key part of Edge Hill University’s Access and Participation Plan commitments, in addition to other widening participation work being conducted by other departments and faculties across the institution.
As part of our widening access and participation work, we currently run both stand-alone events and extended outreach programmes which are designed to support aspiration to HE for students currently in secondary school who meet our WP criteria. For more information on these programmes, please visit our dedicated webpages.
For students in sixth form or college, who are considering entry into HE and meet our WP criteria, we can also offer bespoke 1 to 1 or small group sessions which are designed to support students during the HE application process.
Additionally, Edge Hill University runs a two-year Widening Access to Medicine programme which is designed to support local students from state schools who have the ability and personal attributes to be successful in their application for a place in Medical School. For more information on the WAM programme, please visit our dedicated webpages.
The Widening Access and Participation Team also work with three regional Uni Connect partnerships; Shaping Futures, Future U and Hello Future. The Uni Connect hubs were created by the Office for Students to offer impartial advice, guidance and activities to young people and their parents or carers, and new outreach hubs have been established to help teachers and advisors find impartial information about the outreach activity available in their local areas.
For more information on our WP outreach activity, please contact our Widening Access and Participation team.
Care Experienced and Estranged (CEES)
Students who have experience of Local Authority care or are estranged from their family may experience significant barriers to their education and subsequent progression to higher education.
At Edge Hill, we want to support care-experienced and estranged students to access and succeed within HE, and we offer students a variety of support both pre-entry and whilst studying on-course in order to help with this.
Our dedicated pre-entry point of contact in the Widening Access and Participation team can offer bespoke information and advice on accessing Higher Education and can work with students on a 1 to 1 or group basis. Our dedicated member of staff can also visit students in their own educational institution, as well as organise bespoke tailored visits to the University campus to meet with current students and staff.
Support for Care Experienced and Estranged (CEES)
As students start at Edge Hill University, they may also wish to access guidance and support from our teams in Student Services, Learning Services and Careers. The Student Support Team are the dedicated team for ‘on-course’ support and can help students to make the most of their time at University and complete their courses successfully.
Furthermore, within the careers team, students can also talk to a dedicated team member about their career aspirations, finding part-time work or experience, or any potential barriers or concerns they may have regarding employment.
Eligible students may also be able to access an annual bursary of £1000 for up to a maximum of three years whilst studying at Edge Hill and may also be able to access further funding from our Student Support fund.
On-course students can also apply for a grant of up to £2000 from our Student Opportunity Fund to support a career-enhancing project, initiative or opportunity that will enrich their student experience and enable them to stand out in a competitive environment.
Care-experienced and estranged students studying at Edge Hill University may also be able to access a room in the University Halls of Residence for 365 days a year, for the three years of their degree course. If students do not wish to live in halls of residence on-campus, the Accommodation Team can also provide support in helping students to search for accommodation both during term time and the vacation period.
We work with a number of organisations to help us extend and enhance our work with care-experienced and estranged students and have been recognised for our work in supporting these students to access and succeed in Higher Education. Find out more about the organisations we work with:
National Network for the Education of Care Experienced Learners
If you have any questions or would like more information, please get in touch with us on [email protected] and we will be happy to discuss the support available.
Our team also works with educational practitioners, school/college staff and Virtual Head Teachers to offer support to students in care/about to leave care and those supporting estranged students and would welcome enquiries from anyone seeking support for them.
If a student is 21 or over at the start of their studies, UCAS (the University and Colleges Admissions Service) will consider them to be a mature student. At Edge Hill University we recognise and celebrate the skills, motivation and life experiences that this diverse group of students bring to university life. However, we also recognise that making the decision to come to university can be a difficult one as many mature students may have extra considerations to take into account. This could include how they are going to fit study around existing practical and financial commitments, if they need to top up their Level 3 qualifications in order to apply for a place, and concerns around whether or not they are going to “fit in” at University.
Support for mature students
We offer bespoke mature student sessions on:
- Introduction to HE
- Subject sessions
- How to apply
- Personal statements
- Interview techniques
- Mock interviews
- Sent off your UCAS application? What next?
- Student finance
All of the above sessions can be delivered in your college setting and we are also happy to work with you to develop other bespoke sessions to suit your learners’ needs. Pre-recorded sessions can also be accessed.
We also offer one to one advice for students where necessary and they can also ask questions of our current students on TAP (The Access Platform). Via TAP they can access blogs and vlogs and chat to current mature students.
Fastrack: Preparation for Higher Education is our own access programme, designed to enhance subject knowledge, study skills and IT skills. Fastrack is a 7-week programme that is free of charge and, on successful completion, will enable students to be considered for their chosen degree course.
Mature students may also need some extra support around financial advice. We have a Student Finance presentation specifically designed for mature students which outlines the extra support that may be available to mature students. Students can also access one to one support from our Money Advice Team.
Individual Financial support enquiries can be made via our dedicated Money Advice Team webpage on our website.
We are proud to say that we were shortlisted for outstanding support for students in the 2021 Times Higher Education Awards and ranked in the top 10 in the UK for student support in the 2022 Whatuni Student Choice Awards. Our student support covers all aspects of student life, both academic and personal and includes SpLD support, Money Advice, Wellbeing and Counselling and ongoing support from our award-winning careers team.
Mature and part-time students also have their own SU Officer that can advise and represent them throughout their time at University.
We have a dedicated Widening Access Officer for Access to HE and mature students who can work with you and your students to help them address these issues, whether in group settings or on a 1 to 1 basis. If you would like to talk to them, please contact us.
Young adult carers
Young adult carers are aged between 18 and 25 and care for or look after a family member, friend or other individual, due to disability, chronic or terminal illness, mental health difficulty and/or drug/alcohol dependency.
We recognise the challenges that young adult carers face when considering and choosing to study at University, as they will often be undertaking their caring responsibilities alongside their studies, which can be challenging.
To support students during their exploration and application to HE, our dedicated pre-entry point of contact in the Widening Access and Participation team can offer bespoke information and advice to young adult carers on accessing higher education and can work with students on a 1 to 1 or group basis.
Our member of staff can also visit students in their own school or college, as well as organise bespoke tailored visits to the University campus to meet with current students and staff.
As well as our pre-entry support, students can also access the following support whilst at Edge Hill:
After students have started at Edge Hill University, they may also wish to access guidance and support from our staff in Student Services. The team can help students to make the most of their time at University and complete their course successfully.
Furthermore, within the Careers team, students can also talk to a dedicated team member about their career aspirations, finding part-time work or experience, or any potential barriers or concerns they may have regarding employment.
Eligible students studying at Edge Hill could be entitled to apply for further funding through our Student Support Fund and can access guidance and support in applying for this from our dedicated point of contact in Student Services. On-course undergraduate and PGCE students at Edge Hill University can also apply for up to £2000 from the Student Opportunity Fund, in order to support a career-enhancing project, initiative or opportunity that will enrich their student experience and enhance their employability and transferable skills.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please get in touch with us via [email protected], and we will be happy to discuss the support available to students looking to access higher education.
We also work with educational practitioners and other school/college staff to offer support to students who may have caring responsibilities, and would welcome enquiries from anyone seeking support for their students.
Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students
As part of our ongoing Access and Participation Plan (APP) commitments to supporting more Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students to access University, the Widening Access and Participation team undertake dedicated activity to support students progression into higher education.
Edge Hill Diversity Access Programme
At Edge Hill University we are committed to diversifying our student community. Our research into how we can better support our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students highlights that supporting students pre-entry can improve their success, particularly when it comes to choosing the right course, building confidence in accessing student support services, and feeling part of the university community.
Our Diversity Access Programme not only provides the necessary information, advice and guidance for students considering Higher Education, but also offers tailored support on the above possible barriers. The programme is for a small group of Year 12 (sixth form) or Year One (college) students- participation on the programme is limited due to the bespoke nature of the content delivered. The 2022-23 Diversity Access Programme is currently being recruited to for delivery from January 2023 onwards. Please contact the Widening Access and Participation team to find out more by email.
Students who identify as Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic can apply to be a member of our Student Advisory Panel and help to steer the University’s approach to supporting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students. Panel students are asked to attend several meetings per academic year and offer feedback on projects, events and ideas for enhancing the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students at Edge Hill University. Panel members receive bespoke training from Careers for their involvement, and eligible students will earn points towards an Extra Edge or Competitive Edge certificate.
On-course undergraduate and PGCE students at Edge Hill University can also apply for up to £2,000 from the Student Opportunity Fund, in order to support a career-enhancing project, initiative or opportunity that will enrich their student experience and enhance their employability and transferable skills.
If you have questions or would like more information, please get in touch with us via [email protected] and we will be happy to discuss the support available.
Students from low participation neighbourhoods, eligible for pupil premium, or are first generation in family to enter higher education.
At Edge Hill, students from low HE participation neighbourhoods (POLAR quintiles 1 or 2), students who have been eligible for pupil premium and free school meals, and those who will be the first generation of their family to progress into Higher Education are entitled to priority on our bespoke pre-16 activity days.
For more information about the support we offer students, please get in contact via email.
Disabled students, or students who disclose a mental health condition may be eligible to access extra, specialised support from our dedicated Inclusion and Library and Learning Services teams at Edge Hill.
The Widening Access and Participation team can also offer information, advice and guidance to students on a 1-1 or small group basis (whether on-campus or in school or colleges) particularly regarding access and applying to HE, as well as the typical support available.
The Edge Hill Widening Access and Participation team also frequently collaborate with our local HE institutions to deliver information based events aimed at providing information about Higher Education and support to those who support students with SEND. If you would like to find out when the next event will take place, please get in touch with us via email.
Students with refugee status or seeking asylum
At Edge Hill, we recognise that people seeking a new life in the UK who cannot return to their home countries, whether they are separated from or living with their families, are some of the most vulnerable people in the UK.
Edge Hill University works in partnership with the Article 26 Project to enable people seeking sanctuary to progress to higher education and we provide a support package for two successful applicants to help them achieve their Higher Education goals. The Sanctuary Edge Award is in the form of a tuition fee waiver plus an additional £800 scholarship for the exclusive use of meeting the costs of books, course related materials and travel to and from the university. The scholarship is open to students who are:
- seeking asylum in the UK, or is a dependent or partner of someone seeking asylum
- seeking asylum in the UK, or is a dependent or partner of someone seeking asylum who has been granted limited leave to remain or some other form of temporary status.
- have a conditional or unconditional offer from Edge Hill University
- currently attending a school, college, community or voluntary group which can provide a reference in support of your application
- unable to access mainstream funding, for example student finance or a local authority grant
- live within commuting distance of Edge Hill University OR do not require support for living expenses or accommodation
If you have any questions about whether you or someone you support my be eligible to apply for an award, we would recommend that you contact the International Office on [email protected].
Additionally, if you or someone you support has been granted refugee status and you would like more information on how this affects application to University and financial support, please do get in contact with us on [email protected] for more information.
Students from military families and military leavers
Statistics suggest that children from military service families are under-represented in higher education. As a university that has always been dedicated to widening access and participation, we plan to work more closely with these groups in the future. We would also be very keen to hear from other institutions and agencies that would like to get involved in this work.
In addition to working with children from military families, we also support military leavers to access Higher Education and regularly attend British Forces Resettlement Services (BFRS) events to offer information and advice to those considering HE. If you are or know a military leaver who would like to seek advice about progression to HE, please get in touch with us to find out more.
Please get in touch on [email protected]dgehill.ac.uk.
Gypsy, Roma, Traveller, Showman and Boatmen students
As a university that is committed to increasing widening access and participation, we would like to work more closely with Gypsy, Roma, Traveller, Showman and Boatman students and their supporters in the future. We would welcome communications from any other institutions or agencies that would like to get involved in this work in collaboration with us. If you would like to get in contact, please contact us on [email protected].