Why we exist

Talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not.

Access to education in the UK is profoundly unequal. According to The Sutton Trust, students from the most under-resourced backgrounds are three times less likely to attend university than their more advantaged peers.

Our vision is to level the playing field and help the country’s most under-resourced young people place at top universities, giving them the best chance at achieving social mobility.

The Access Project is recognised as an industry leader in the education and widening participation field.

  • Highly Commended, 2018 CSJ Annual Award for Education, Employment and Skills
  • Validated at Level 3 on Nesta’s Standards of Evidence, 2016

Meet our students

Ras.I studied with The Access Project from 2016 – 2019. As a child, he lived below the poverty line. He was homeless and he struggled to afford a school uniform, going to school with holes in his shoes.

With support from The Access Project, Ras.I achieved high grades in his GCSEs and A levels. Now, he’s a finalist at the University of Oxford, and has dreams of becoming Prime Minister. Ras.I wants to transform the lives of young people just like him.

How does it work?

The Access Project was established in 2008 to help talented young people from under-resourced backgrounds gain access to an education at one of the UK’s top universities. Through our unique programme, we aim to help our teenagers unlock their potential and transform their future prospects.

We work with more than 1,000 volunteers supporting over 1,800 students across London, West Midlands, East Midlands, West Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria.

Students enrolled on our programme receive expert support from our University Access Officers, mentors embedded in schools to guide pupils through their education options, university applications and student life topics such as navigating student finance.

Many of our students also receive GCSE or A level tuition, helping them raise their grades and increase their chances of getting into a top university. Additionally, we work with some students to develop essential skills and prepare them for the world of work.

Our students are 50% more likely to place at a top university compared to statistically similar students.

Our mentors

Our University Access Officers are our mentors, embedded in schools and working directly with students.

Mentors at The Access Project work one-to-one with students and deliver tailored group workshop sessions, guiding the young people on our programmes through their education journey. Mentors help students make decisions about their education choices, develop their university applications, and prepare for life ahead.

83% of our students say that one-to-one meetings with their mentors have improved their knowledge about university and 79% of our students feel that our workshops have motivated them to attend a top university.

Volunteer tutoring

Every year we match hundreds of volunteer tutors with a 14 to 16-year-old student from one of our partner schools. Through one hour tutorials each week they support our students to achieve their full potential at GCSE. The weekly sessions not only raise grades but improve a young person’s confidence and aspirations.

98% of our volunteers feel they are making a positive impact.

Programmes like The Access Project have repeatedly demonstrated how much difference they make to the students who work with them, in terms of academic outcomes and progression into higher education, tackling poor attainment, and the poor life chances it leads to.

John Blake, Director of Fair Access and Participation at Office for Students

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