Widening Participation

What is Widening Participation?

Widening Participation programmes are designed to increase the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds going to on to study at university.

Widening Participation programmes:

  • Access to Bristol Link to relevant part of this page
  • Future Quest Link to relevant part of this page
  • Nuffield Research Placements Link to relevant part of this page
  • On Track to Bath
  • Pathways to Health Sciences
  • Pathways to Law

How do I get a place?

This varies from programme to programme – and each programme is a little different.  These are ways you can access the programmes:

  • You apply for a place directly to the programme
  • You apply to Post 16 and we shortlist based on GCSE grades and a short personal statement
  • A member of Post 16 staff nominates you
  • You express interest and attend the sessions

Can I take part?

Each programme has its own eligibility criteria, so you will need to check carefully to see if you are eligible for a place.  Some programmes require certain grades at GCSE, whereas others look at your postcode – it varies widely, please check each programme.

Does it cost anything?


What do I need to bring?

Just enthusiasm and a willingness to take part.


Access to Bristol provides local students with an unprecedented opportunity to experience life at the University of Bristol.

Access to Bristol – Access to Bristol is a programme run in 8-week terms in the autumn and spring of each academic year.  If successful, you would attend one term (either autumn OR spring) in each academic year – and you can apply in Year 12 and Year 13.  It runs on Wednesday afternoons and transport is provided.

You’ll have a choice of which subject you’d like to study:

  • Applied Maths & Computer Science
  • Archaeology and Anthropology
  • Biological Sciences
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Childhood Studies, Education Studies and Psychology in Education
  • Classics and Ancient History
  • Earth Sciences
  • Economics, Accounting and Finance
  • Engineering
  • English Literature
  • Film and Theatre
  • Geography
  • Historical Studies
  • Law (Access to HE)
  • Liberal Arts
  • Management, Accounting & Finance
  • Mathematics
  • Modern Languages
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Politics
  • Psychology
  • Religion and Theology
  • Social Policy and Criminology
  • Social Sciences
  • Sociology

Pathways to Health Sciences – If you are a Year 12 student interested in studying Medicine, Dentistry or Veterinary Science, you may be interested in this two-year Pathways to Health Sciences programme.

Pathways to Law – This is a two-year programme for Year 12 students who are interested in studying for a career in Law.

Can I take part?

You need to apply for Access to Bristol in September.  Applications go directly to the University and they shortlist using the following criteria.

To apply you must:

  • be in your first or second year of A-level study (or equivalent), with the exception of the Pathways to Law and Pathways to Health Sciences streams, which are two-year programmes and therefore open to students in Year 12 only;
  • be resident in a Bath (BA), Bristol (BS) or other local postcode within an hour’s journey of the University of Bristol.

The scheme is very popular and there is high demand for places. If a subject stream is oversubscribed, priority is given to those who meet all or most of the following criteria:

  • Have the academic ability to study at the University of Bristol (meeting the GCSE entry requirements for their chosen subject stream);
  • are part of the first generation in their family to go to university;
  • live in a Low Participation Area; (your student support leader will be able to give you this information)
  • are in the care of the Local Authority.

Guaranteed Offer at contextual level

Successful completion of the Access to Bristol scheme will guarantee you an offer from the University of Bristol provided that you meet the full entry requirements of the course you apply for.

You will be eligible for a contextual offer for all undergraduate courses, which is usually two grades lower than the typical offer. If the course holds interviews or auditions as part of the selection process you will be guaranteed an interview or audition.

Access to Bristol Bursary

If you successfully complete the Access to Bristol scheme and firmly accept your offer to study at the University of Bristol you may be eligible for the Access to Bristol bursary, which consists of:

  • A full tuition fee waiver for your first year of study;
  • A maintenance bursary of £3,855 for each year of your course.

To be considered for the bursary you need to have a household income of £25,000 or below and be resident in England.

Access to Bristol website
Pathways to Health Sciences website 
Pathways to Law website


Nuffield Research Placements provide over 1,100 students each year with the opportunity to work alongside professional scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.

Nuffield Research Placements take place in your summer holidays after Year 12. You will work on a project that relates to an area of science, quantitative social science, computing, technology, engineering or maths (or a combination of these). Most projects are based in an office, but some include working in a laboratory or fieldwork.

Placements are between four and six weeks in length and are available in your local area. Your placement might be in a university, research institute, company, or voluntary organisation. You will work alongside professional researchers on a project that is an important part of their business.

Read the experiences of students who have taken part in the programme

Can I take part?

This programme is for Year 12 students only, studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) courses.

The eligibility criteria:

  • Be over 16 and in full-time education in the UK.
  • Have at least five GCSEs or Scottish Nationals at grade B/Grade 6 or above, including maths, a science subject, and English or another humanities subject.
  • Studying one or more A-levels (or equivalent) in science, technology, engineering or maths.

Anyone who meets the eligibility criteria is eligible to apply, but preference will be given to:

  • Students from low-income families;
  • Those with no family history of Higher Education;
  • Those who have not previously participated in a similar enrichment activity.

If you already access the CLF bursary, then you will likely be eligible for the Nuffield Research Placement bursary of around £80 – £100 per week for the duration of the placement.

How do I apply?

Applications are made directly to Nuffield Research Placements, through the regional Nuffield Coordinator (based at the University of Bath).  You will need to provide the following:

  • Personal information (contact details, special requirements etc)
  • Educational information (school, qualifications achieved and qualifications currently studying, preferred subject area for placement)
  • A personal statement outlining why they want to do a Nuffield Research Placement
  • Details about any other outside interests
  • A Full Bursary application (if applicable)

You will also need to nominate a teacher to write a reference for you.

Timeline of the programme

(May vary slightly year to year)


  • Study the information on the Nuffield website.
  • Speak to your teacher about your interest in a Nuffield Research Placement.
  • Contact your Nuffield Coordinator if you have any queries about the programme.
  • If you are in doubt as to which region you come under, check with the relevant Nuffield Coordinator before making an application.


  • Applications can be made from late November.


  • Complete your application (please note, application deadlines vary by region).
  • Make sure you have uploaded your parent/guardian consent form, checked and completed all parts of your application.
  • Check that your teacher has completed their reference through the online system.


  • Students attend an induction event designed to help them get the most from their Nuffield Research Placement.


  • Carry out the Nuffield Research Placement.


  • Students complete a report and show off their work at a celebration event run by their Nuffield Coordinator.


Future Quest is all about encouraging young people to get into Higher Education, where participation is lower than expected.  The programme aims to provide activities, workshops and trips that will increase your “cultural capital”.

Can I take part?

Future Quest is open to students who live in specific postcodes in Bristol.  This will be determined in September and all eligible students will be invited to attend a talk introducing the programme and its coordinator.

What happens in the programme?

In 2017/18 Future Quest students were invited to take part in the following:

Higher Education Days

Two separate workshop days held at UWE.  Students are given a UWE campus tour, including looking at halls of residence and sports facilities, as well as the chance to chat with current university students.


  • Healthy eating
  • Managing money
  • Managing your online legacy
  • Drink awareness
  • Ironing!

Study Skills Day

Held at the University of Bristol, the sessions are:

  • Student Finance;
  • Personal Statement writing;
  • An academic session given by a university lecturer;
  • Study Skills session on how to construct an argument.

Psychometric Profiling

Before the session, students take a psychometric test.  At the session, students are given a detailed booklet outlining their strengths and a workshop is run on how to recognise and utilise them.  A follow up session will be run at the end of the academic year.

Underfall Yard

Underfall Yard is crucial to maintaining the floating harbour in Bristol.  The trip involves learning how the yard was created, the engineering required to maintain it and practical demonstrations of the processes involved.  Lunch is eaten on the harbour side and there is an afternoon ferry trip.

Future Quest website 

Future Quest UWE Life Skills Day

Extreme Ironing (Rais Malik)

Drink Awareness workshop (Curtis Black, Khalid Hared)

Understanding the Mechanics of Underfall Yard (Jade Silk, Tomi Adegbite)


On Track to Bath is a free two-year curriculum enhancement programme for A level students to support entry to higher education.

Can I take part?

On Track to Bath is for students who are academically able and whose background may make them less likely to go to a leading university. Some of these students may not be considering going to university at all.

Students must have:

  • Six GCSEs at grades A* to B or 9 to 6;
  • At least a grade 4 in GCSE English and Maths.

What “tracks” are available?

  • Business, Economics and Entrepreneurship
  • Computer Science and Electronics
  • Science
  • Social Sciences
  • Languages

You will need to check the eligibility of each track as they all have subject specific criteria.

What happens in the programme?

Year 1

The first year includes three compulsory parts:

  • regular sessions at the University of Bath designed to broaden your understanding of your chosen subject area;
  • the completion of a research project on a topic of your choice designed to develop independent learning and research skills;
  • attendance at a four-day residential at the University of Bath that will give you first-hand experience of university life and prepare you for that first step into Higher Education.

Year 2

The second year of the programme includes:

  • workshops to help you make a competitive UCAS application, write a strong personal statement and develop your interview skills;
  • study skills workshops designed to broaden and enhance your knowledge and understanding, and help to raise your attainment at A level;
  • opportunities to discover more about student life including how to make the most of your budget, what to expect from social life at university, social and leisure opportunities, academic and personal support, and tips and advice on survival skills for independent living.

Alternative offer

All students who successfully complete On Track to Bath and apply for a University of Bath course will receive additional consideration at the point of admission. In addition to this, all students who complete the programme, attend satisfactorily, achieve an A or above in their project and apply to the University of Bath are then eligible for an alternative offer.

This means that if you are made an offer then you will receive both the typical and alternative offer. The alternative offer is usually a reduction by one grade in one of their A levels. For example, AAA would become AAB with an A in the On Track Project.

On Track to Bath website