photograph of widening participation students at social event

Open Glasgow

The University of Glasgow is making real inroads to attract more students from disadvantaged backgrounds in the Glasgow area.

Glasgow has 56 of the most deprived areas in Scotland. The University’s Widening Participation programmes are targeting these areas to break down the barriers for less affluent potential students.

The University works with all schools across the West of Scotland, partnering with colleges and local authorities to support school leavers and adult learners to prepare for, apply to and succeed at university.

The University’s widening participation programmes include:

  • Summer School
  • Early Secondary Programme
  • Top up Programme
  • Reach (Access to the Professions)
  • Access to a Career
  • Sutton Trust Summer School
  • Scottish Wider Access Programme Access Courses
  • University of Glasgow Access Courses

Unlocking Potential

The programmes are designed to address some of the challenges that students from disadvantaged communities have faced when making the transition from school to university. Each provides a route into every degree course at Glasgow and includes adjusted offers of entry.

Students are supported through academically-rigorous programmes which prepare them for the transition to university and performance is monitored to ensure that each student is given the best possible chance to maintain their studies and obtain their degrees. This high-quality outreach work is combined with the use of contextualised admissions.

Student performance on the WP programmes is used as evidence of ability and potential and allows adjusted offers of entry to be made based on an applicant’s full individual circumstances, not just school grades. The profiles students gain on the programmes are used by universities across Scotland to aid entry for disadvantaged applicants; the University of Glasgow programmes benefit the whole sector, not just Glasgow.

Dr Neil Croll, Head of Widening Participation at Glasgow explains, “We are deeply committed to widening access and to offering a world-class education to anyone who has talent and ambition, regardless of economic circumstance or social background – this doesn’t just benefit those students, it makes our University more diverse and reflective of the society we serve.”

The University has implemented a number of measures to widen access to applicants from non-traditional backgrounds and the Widening Participation team works annually with more than 30,000 targeted pupils across the 160 secondary schools in the west of Scotland. The summer schools target pupils across all of Scotland’s 360 secondary schools.

Real Results

The University made the headlines in 2018 when it revealed that nearly 20% of Scottish entrants to its School of Medicine were from the most deprived areas of Scotland - numbers that were touted as unprecedented among the UK’s 34 medical schools. This level has been maintained since.

Joint working with academic Schools across the University is essential to the success of the WP initiatives. In this way, the Reach Programme identifies potential student candidates for study in Law, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Dentistry, Accounting & Finance, Engineering and Education. The team works with S4/S5/S6 students across the seven subjects, in schools and on the University campus, offering summer schools, workshops and support to maintain the right grades to be accepted into the University courses.

The University has built strong partnerships with Local Authorities and a network of contact teachers in schools, who identify students with potential to participate in the programmes. Many of these students would otherwise not progress to university.

Neil adds, “Our programmes are delivering real results and, while we are very proud of the demonstrable progress we’ve made so far, we are wholly committed to working in partnership with the Scottish Government, colleges and local authorities to do even more in this vitally important area.”

IntoUniversity Learning Centres

Two new learning centres, providing after-school academic tuition, mentoring and programmes to enable young people to achieve their ambitions will open in Govan in Glasgow and Craigmiller in Edinburgh in March 2021. The project is a ground-breaking collaboration between the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh and education charity IntoUniversity.

The partnership is based upon a shared concern for children growing up experiencing poverty and a belief in the power of education to transform young people’s lives. The new IntoUniversity centres will provide invaluable long-term support with young people’s educational outcomes and their journey into employment and a positive destination.

The centres will complement extensive work that both universities already do to widen access to higher education, by providing community-based support to young people on their doorstep. Through activities at the universities young people will develop their understanding of university life and awareness of the opportunities that higher education has to offer.

About Widening Participation

Widening Participation recognises that not everyone has the same start in life or the same opportunities to flourish and succeed educationally.

The University of Glasgow has long been passionately committed to and taken a lead in Widening Participation, pioneering many different types of access programmes and best practice, to help potential students achieve their potential.