New resource to help teachers and their pupils access leading universities

A new website to support teachers who are helping their students go on to study at the UK’s leading universities has been officially launched today (16 September 2016).

The Advancing Access website, which has been developed in partnership with the University of Sheffield, provides best practice examples and how-to guides for teachers and college staff helping pupils with post-16 subject choices and university decisions.

This is the first time that these essential resources and advice have been made available online and free of charge for teachers and advisers.

The site includes detailed information for teachers on:

  • Helping students choose post-16 subjects
  • Helping students choose a university and a degree course
  • Helping students apply to leading universities
  • Information on how the admissions systems work at leading universities

Teachers and advisers can access information and advice online through guidebooks, information sheets and video case studies which can be used in the classroom. The Advancing Access website will also host virtual conferences throughout the year where users can hear first-hand from university staff, ask questions through live discussion forums and share ideas with colleagues, all without the need for travel.

Made possible by HEFCE funding as part of the National Networks for Collaborative Outreach, Advancing Access builds on the success of existing measures designed to improve university entrance rates for students from under-represented or disadvantaged backgrounds.

Director General of the Russell Group, Dr Wendy Piatt said:

“Teachers play an absolutely vital role in encouraging and supporting their students to progress to Russell Group universities so making sure they have the most up to date information, advice and guidance to share with their pupils is essential.

“Advancing Access will provide a wide range of vital resources for teachers to support them in ensuring that pupils who have the promise and potential to attend a Russell Group university are given the best opportunity to succeed.

“Ensuring that our doors are wide open to talented and able students from all backgrounds really matters to us and our universities work hard to spread the word to students that with the right grades in the right subjects a place at a Russell Group university is well within reach. This new website means that the latest information will always be at their fingertips.”

David Coe, Transition & Progression Coordinator, Newcastle Sixth Form College, a teacher who has taken part in the pilot said:

“I am extremely excited for the launch of Advancing Access; a collection of valuable CPD resources for staff who support learners with their university choices. In this day and age, choosing the right university and course has taken on an even greater significance for students and is a decision that has to be well informed.

“Advancing Access will help immeasurably in that respect, not only for applicants themselves in raising their aspirations and equipping them with the information and confidence to make that decision, but for the staff who advise them, as the resources are comprehensive, insightful and easy to understand.”

Additional information

For more information on Advancing Access please visit:

The 20 Russell Group universities in England alone will be investing £254 million in 2017/18 in scholarships, fee waivers, bursaries and outreach activities aimed at the most disadvantaged - with additional investments being made across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Department for Education destination data published in January showed that the number of students eligible for free school meals going to Russell Group universities has increased every year since 2010. In 2013, almost 13% of the students (1820) eligible for free school meals who went into higher education went to a Russell Group university, up from 7.5% (910) in 2010.

The number of young, full-time undergraduate students from low socioeconomic backgrounds entering a Russell Group university has increased by 14%, from 12,655 to 14,415 in 2014/15.

The number of young, full-time undergraduate students who attended state schools going to Russell Group universities each year has increased by 8.2%, from 56,440 to 61,080 in 2014/15.

The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2016 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact: 

Sean Barton
Media Relations Assistant
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9852