Widening Participation FAQs
What is Widening Participation?
Traditionally, the term “widening participation” refers to raising the aspirations and attainment of people from backgrounds under-represented at university. The aim behind widening participation is to ensure that student bodies at universities reflect the diversity represented in wider society.
Groups of people who may be targeted in the drive to widen participation include:
Young people from low-income backgrounds
Young people from low-participation neighbourhoods
Young people whose parents did not go to university
Young people in or leaving care
Young people living with a disability
Young people from an ethnic minority
Those returning to learning as mature students
People who fall into one or more of these categories are statistically less likely to go on to higher education. Widening participation initiatives seek to address this disparity by offering support to those facing barriers to higher education.
Common elements to a widening participation initiative may include:
Mentoring by student ambassadors
Visits to a university
Master classes providing insight into a specific subject area
Subject-specific workshops or interactive sessions
Talks or workshops on study skills, applying to university and student finance.
Historically, widening participation focused on raising aspirations generally, and work was often conducted collaboratively between several universities. Work was often delivered through Aimhigher. This was an England-wide initiative, funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Under Aimhigher, regional partnerships were formed, consisting of universities, schools and further education and sixth form colleges. King’s was part of the South East London Aimhigher partnership (called Aspire) along with LSBU, Goldsmiths and Greenwich University, and targeted schools and colleges in the boroughs of Bexley, Southwark, Lambeth, Greenwich, Wandsworth and Lewisham.
The Aimhigher programme ceased in July 2011, and each Higher Education Institution (HEI) in England took over responsibility for its own widening participation programme. Each HEI therefore developed its own widening participation strategy.
King’s has committed to an innovative and ambitious widening participation programme, focusing on strategic partnerships and K+, the college’s flagship scheme. These will provide long-term, targeted support to those with the ability to succeed at King’s, but who fall into one or more widening participation target groups.
 This refers to areas where very few people go on to higher education, usually defined according to Polar 2 data.
What is an Access Agreement?
Any university or college that wants to charge tuition fees for full-time home/EU undergraduates above the basic level must have an Access Agreement approved by the Director of Fair Access.
An Access Agreement sets out a university or college’s fee limits and the access measures it intends to put in place e.g. outreach work and financial support.
In 2011, all universities who wished to charge over £6,000pa in fees were required to submit an Access Agreement formalising their commitment to widening participation in their institutions. Part of this agreement involved setting recruitment targets for numbers of students who fulfil widening participation criteria. More information about Access Agreements can be found on the Office for Fair Access website here. The King’s College London Access Agreement can be viewed in full here.
What is King’s doing to widen participation?
What is K+?
As outlined in the Access Agreement, the strategy to widen participation at King’s has two key elements. Through the K+ scheme, King’s works directly with young people to support them in their journey to university. For more information on K+ click here. King’s works with a series of carefully-selected strategic partners, and in partnership with local schools and colleges, to provide a comprehensive programme of widening participation activities and support. For a full list of our strategic partners, click here.
For more information on K+ follow this link.
Who are our strategic partners for widening participation?
As part of its Access Agreement King’s has signed memoranda of understanding with a number of strategic partners. These partners work with the college to provide a comprehensive programme of widening participation activity and support.
Our current partner organisations are:
Harris Federation of Academies
Helena Kennedy Foundation
For more information about our partners, please contact one of the team
How can I be involved?
K+ programme and admissions at King’s
I am a member of academic staff, how can I be involved?
Members of staff from across the college are already involved in Widening Participation at King’s, and we welcome the opportunity to build on these relationships and to develop new ones. If you are interested in becoming involved in the work we do, please contact a member of the team. Activities currently undertaken by staff include master class sessions, taster lectures and involvement in student mentoring programmes, but we welcome new suggestions and ideas.
If you are already involved in any outreach work on behalf of the college, we would be very interested to hear from you. As you may know, the Office for Fair Access now requires all Higher Education Institutions to monitor and report on the impact of their outreach work. We are, therefore, very keen to ensure that some basic information about each event that takes place is captured by the central team. Please contact the central team for more information and a template evaluation form.
I am a member of professional services staff, how can I be involved?
Members of staff from across the college are already involved in Widening Participation at King’s, and we welcome the opportunity to build on these relationships and to develop new ones. If you are interested in becoming involved in the work we do, please contact a member of the team.
I am a student at King’s, how can I be involved?
Students are integral to the widening participation work being done at King’s. Interaction with Student Ambassadors has been proven to be one of the most effective ways of raising aspirations and encouraging young people to consider applying to university. Currently, widening participation student ambassadors are involved in a wide range of activities, including online and face-to-face mentoring, delivering subject-specific workshops, representing King’s at Higher Education Fairs and Parents’ Evenings and running workshops on every aspect of Higher Education. KCLSU also offers a good number of ways to get involved in widening participation through involvement with its student activity groups. If you are interested in becoming a student ambassador, click here, or if you interested in the ways that KCLSU can help you get involved, click here
If you are a postgraduate student and are interested in working with the WP Team to provide subject-specific academic support to K+ pupils, please contact a member of the team.
I am a pupil, how can I be involved?
Pupils in Year 12 can apply to join K+, for more information about the scheme, please click here. If you are not a member of K+ but would like to attend a specific event, please click on the event on our events calendar.
I am a parent/carer, how can I be involved?
Research has demonstrated that the involvement of parents and carers in a young person’s journey to university is very important. As a parent or carer, by informing yourself, you can support your child in making an informed choice about their future. Some things you might like to consider are:
Going to the UCAS website
to learn about the different options available in Higher Education. On this site you can learn about the different ways to get a degree, which courses are on offer and how to apply.
Doing some online research about student finance to learn about how your child can fund their studies. For example, Martin Lewis has some information and tips on his website
. For a brief introduction into the new funding system you may like to view this video
which was created by the University of Bournemouth.
Going to visit King’s (or another university at which your child is interested in studying). For more information about how to visit King’s, please click here
If you would like help or advice about how best to support your child in their journey to university, please contact a member of the team.
I am a teacher in a school or college, how can I be involved?
In accordance with the King’s motto, “In the Service of Society”, we are working hard to strengthen links with our local community. If you are a teacher in a local school or college please contact a member of the team to learn more about how we might work together. You can also click here to contact a member of the Schools’ Liaison Team.
Statement re: K+ programme and admissions
When making a UCAS application, King’s College London K+ participants are encouraged to indicate their participation in the K+ scheme by adding a flagging code to their UCAS application. Guidance on this ‘flagging’ process is given to participants at the appropriate time of year. Flagged applications are cross-checked against the Widening Participation records of King’s College London to ensure that only K+ participants are using this code.
King’s operates a competitive admissions process and a number of programmes have many more applications than places. If required, King’s will ensure that K+ applications will be given additional consideration as part of the admissions process. Additional consideration will vary from course to course and indeed applicant to applicant. Some examples of the form that additional consideration might take are given below;
Students whose predicted grades are marginally lower than that required for the course may be given an offer (at the standard level)
Students whose application is considered as being close to the standard required to gain an interview may be offered an interview to fully assess their potential
Students whose admissions test score is considered as being close to the required standard might be given additional consideration and their application processed to the next stage of the process
Students who fail to meet their conditional offer will be given additional consideration as to whether their place should be confirmed.
Assuming that the Admissions Office have been informed on a timely basis that a student is a participant of the K+ programme, the Director of Admissions and the Head of Widening Participation will personally review every K+ student’s application before an unsuccessful decision is confirmed.
King’s does not make lower or variable offers, other than on our ESDP and EMDP programmes, and K+ applicants will also not be made lower offers. King’s is ambitious for the attainment of the participants of K+ and many of our activities are focused on helping students to fulfill their potential and achieve excellent grades in their AS and A level qualifications or equivalent.
K+ offers a variety of activities that can help in and support the UCAS personal statement of a university applicant. These activities show enthusiasm and motivation to further pursue the study of a particular subject – qualities that are taken into account in the admissions procedures of many highly selective universities. K+ participants will have the opportunity to participate in personal statement workshops and more.