Strathclyde making great strides in widening access

Children's University graduation ceremony

The University of Strathclyde is Scotland’s leading research-intensive University for attracting increasing numbers of widening access entrants to higher education, according to new figures released today.

The University’s number of young full-time entrants from the 40% most deprived areas of the country grew from 600 to 669, and our proportion of such entrants increased from 23.5% to 25.3%, compared to the previous year. Our proportion of entrants from the 20% most deprived areas also grew from 10.8% to 11.5%. The figures, released today by the Scottish Funding Council, underline the University’s growing year-on-year success in widening access.

Proud track record

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of the University, said: “Since the University’s foundation more than 200 years ago during the Enlightenment, Strathclyde has established a proud track record of removing barriers to higher education. We want to ensure ability – and not financial or social circumstance – determines participation.

“I am pleased that today’s figures confirm the success of our widening participation initiatives. As a socially progressive university, we believe that all students should have an equal chance of academic success, and to benefit from the life-changing opportunities university can bring.”

The University has a wide range of initiatives to improve attainment, educational experience and aspirations, and uses contextual data in admissions to support recruitment of exceptional candidates from a wide range of backgrounds.

Widening participation initiatives include:

Strathclyde Cares

The pioneering Strathclyde Cares programme – A UK first – is helping care-experienced students throughout their higher education journey, from pre-application to graduation and beyond. The programme includes a two-day summer programme for care-experienced participants, to introduce university life; support from a named care advisor; financial support from the Alumni Fund for graduating students to meet the costs of gowns, photographs and transcripts; dedicated Careers Service support; and a Strathclyde Cares summer internship.

In September last year, Strathclyde Cares launched a new mentoring programme, pairing care-experienced students with trained volunteer members of staff from across the University community. More than 150 staff members volunteered within 48 hours of the programme going live.

Over six years, there has been a 38% increase in the number of applicants to Strathclyde declaring a care background; a 75% increase in the number of offers to those declaring care experience; and a 114% increase in the number of such students registering.

Young Strathclyders programme

Exceptional school pupils from schools with historically low participation rates in higher education have joined the University’s Young Strathclyders programme, which provides tailored, one-to-one support in the process of studying for, and applying to, higher education.

The students are identified from two of the University’s annual school outreach programmes – the Scottish Space School and the Accelerate Challenge – as having particular promise and interest in subjects offered by Strathclyde. The students are matched with student mentors, and are given a Young Strathclyder student card, which gives them access to the library and other University facilities. They also receive support to assist them in their final year of school, to gain work experience, and to complete the application process for university.

Other University widening participation initiatives include:

  • The Engineering Academy, which helps students to move seamlessly from college to university
  • Scotland’s first Children’s University, which enables children aged seven to 14 to widen their skills and interests, while providing a new and innovative route to further and higher education
  • Partnership with the MCR Pathways programme, which provides mentoring to pupils who have experienced the care system
  • Founding the Trans.Edu project, examining the support needs of transgender applicants, students and staff in universities and colleges across Scotland
  • Becoming the first university in Scotland to pledge its support for students who are estranged from their families through the charity Stand Alone