Widening Participation

What is Widening Participation?

Widening Participation (WP) is a government initiative within the Higher Education sector. Universities and colleges around the UK are encouraged to offer and develop outreach work to help to raise the aspirations of groups of people, who may be less likely to go on to study at Higher Education level. According to the Office for Fair Access*, ‘WP’ students include:

  • Students from lower socio-economic groups and neighbourhoods in which relatively few people enter higher education
  • Students from some ethnic groups or sub-groups
  • Students who have been in care
  • Disabled Students
  • Young Adult Carers

*This list has been taken from The Office For Fair Access webpage and is correct at time of publishing

At Bishop Grosseteste University, we believe that every student, regardless of status, age, background or gender, has the right to be encouraged to consider Higher Education as an option for his or her future. All of our outreach work aims to promote the idea that a University education is accessible for all.

Widening Participation Programmes

At BGU we are committed to Widening Participation, we run two programmes to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds and those facing challenging personal circumstances. Both First Steps 2 Study and Next Steps 4 Study aim to develop the independent learning skills students require at Higher Education, as well as the opportunity for students to get their questions about university answered.

First Steps 2 Study

The First Steps 2 Study programme was created by Bishop Grosseteste University in 2011 and is built from a combination of successful taster days and outreach sessions engaging students from Year 9 through to Year 11. Schools can opt into one or all year groups with each programme consisting of a one hour visit to your school (Step 1) followed by a visit to BGU for Step 2 of the programme.

Students involved will take part in activities suitable to their age group, including an Introduction to Higher Education, Revision skills, Budgeting skills, Debating and Presentation skills. All of the sessions are designed to aid students’ knowledge of Higher Education and help their progression onto university in the future.

Click here to download a full programme outline including details of the FS2S partnership agreement.

If you are interested in either of the programmes, we are happy to meet you at your school/college to discuss them in more detail and see how it can fit in with your school/college requirements. Please get in touch on outreach@bishopg.ac.uk or call 01522583637

Book now.

Next Steps 4 Study

Next Steps 4 Study is a four-step programme which we offer to sixth forms and colleges. The four steps occur at regular intervals from December to July of Year 12 and includes two one hour visits to your school/college and two visits to BGU. The initiative has been demonstrably successful in encouraging people from disadvantaged backgrounds and those facing challenging personal circumstances to enter higher education.

As this is a Widening Participation initiative as of September 2018, Bishop Grosseteste University will be offering contextual offers to students who partake in the Next Steps to Study Programme. Students who complete the full programme, and apply for an undergraduate course at BGU could be made offers at a lower UCAS tariff than standard course applications. This is dependent on other course requirements being met.

The focus of NS4S is the development of the independent learning skills required when students’ progress to university. In addition, the programme provides opportunities for students to seek information, advice and guidance about their progression to higher education from a range of professional support staff, academic staff and BGU student ambassadors. It is delivered through a four- step approach.

Click here to download a full programme outline and details of the NS4S partnership agreement.

If you are interested in either of the programmes, we are happy to meet you at your school/college to discuss them in more detail and see how it can fit in with your school/college requirements. Please get in touch on outreach@bishopg.ac.uk or call 01522583637.

Book now.

Summer School

BGU also holds a residential Summer School over the summer, which is aimed at raising aspirations and offering students an insight into Higher Education.


Due to funding stipulations, we sometimes have to prioritise certain students over others. This means we use WP criteria and application forms to help us make our decisions about whom we invite to what events. If we are running WP events, the selection process will rarely be first come first served. For more information, please call 01522 583637 to speak to our Widening Participation Co-Ordinator directly.

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