University of Sheffield welcomes school students to new programme widening access to degree study

  • New programme aims to help students from the region access the most selective UK universities
  • Launched at the University of Sheffield, the programme is available to students from Yorkshire for the first time
  • The programme will support students who come from backgrounds where there is low participation in higher education

Western Bank Library

A national programme which helps students access the opportunity to attend the UK’s most selective universities has been launched for the Yorkshire region at the University of Sheffield.

Students from schools across Yorkshire, including Worksop, Wakefield, Easingwold, Ripon and Bradford, attended the launch of The Elephant Group’s Access Programme at The Diamond last night (6 November 2019).

The University of Sheffield is participating in the programme - available outside of London for the first time - to support year 12 and 13 students as they prepare to apply to degree courses when they finish school.

The Elephant Group aims to increase access to the UK universities that have the most selective (high-tariff) UCAS entry requirements, for the most academically able students from non-selective state schools.

The first cohort of students from the participating schools come from backgrounds that traditionally have had low participation in higher education. These include under-represented groups such as students from black, asian and minority ethnic backgrounds; or students that may face other hurdles to accessing a university education, such as students leaving care, living with a disability, or those that have financial barriers to overcome.

It was a pleasure to welcome students from across Yorkshire on to the programme, showing them the value of pursuing a university education and how we will support them to ensure their success.

Professor Brendan Stone, the University of Sheffield’s Deputy Vice-President for Education

“It was a pleasure to welcome students from across Yorkshire on to the programme, showing them the value of pursuing a university education and how we will support them to ensure their success,” said Professor Brendan Stone, the University of Sheffield’s Deputy Vice-President for Education.

Professor Stone spoke to students at the event who will undertake a two-year programme alongside studying for their A levels to improve their chances of being successful in applying to leading universities like Sheffield.

The programme of outreach and awareness building activities includes networking with university leaders and student ambassadors, study skills master classes, application guidance and interview workshops.

Professor Stone highlighted his own experience as being the first member of his family to attend university during the event. He said: “I want to inspire young people to see that a university education is not only a vehicle to help build a career and life that may have seemed out of reach, but also to instill that by entering into higher education, these students have the opportunity to be part of something much bigger.

“As much as they have to gain themselves, they will also be contributing to the greater good. By gaining the skills and experience a university education affords, they will be able to challenge the status quo and accepted wisdom to provide the knowledge and solutions to some of our society’s greatest challenges.”

According to the Office for Students, currently only 19 per cent of non-selective state school students access high-tariff universities, compared to 65 per cent of independent school students. The percentage is even lower for those state school students considered to come from a ‘disadvantaged’ background.

Managing Director of The Elephant Group, Laura Compton, said: “Talented students from across non-selective state schools are under-represented at top universities, and upwards into top professions such as law, medicine and politics.

“Working with schools and universities to support students with their aspirations, application and attainment to reach top universities like Sheffield increases their life opportunities.”

“Our participation in the programme plays a key part of our Widening Participation Programme here at the University,” said Denise Brooks, Senior Widening Participation Officer within the University of Sheffield’s Student Recruitment and Admissions Department.

“It will help us to target groups of academically excellent students from the region who may have never considered being able to study at a university level and ensure they fulfil their potential.

“Evidence shows that continued and committed support for these groups means they are more likely to stay the course and succeed not only at university, but in the workplace as well.”

Additional information:

Widening participation at the University of Sheffield

The University of Sheffield

With almost 29,000 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 2018 and for the last eight years has been ranked in the top five UK universities for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education.

Sheffield has six 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 more information please contact:

Rebecca Ferguson
Media Relations Officer
0114 222 9859