Widening Participation

What is Widening Participation?

Introduction to the background to and initiatives of Widening Participation (WP) at the University of Edinburgh.

What is Widening Participation?

Widening Participation (WP) to higher education is a strategic priority for the UK and Scottish governments, the higher education sector in general and the University of Edinburgh in particular.

WP aims to address the discrepancies in the take-up of higher education opportunities between different social groups.

We therefore work to raise aspirations and educational attainment among prospective students from under-represented groups, to:

  • prepare them for higher education
  • ensure success on their programme of study
  • improve their employment prospects
  • open possibilities for postgraduate study
  • give them opportunities to return to learning throughout their lives

Who is it aimed at?

Under-represented groups:

  • lower socio-economic groups
  • low-participation schools and neighbourhoods

The University is engaged with prospective students, their families and advisers in a wide range of Widening Participation awareness and aspiration raising projects and activities aimed at students who are:

  • first generation to consider higher education
  • from low socio-economic groups
  • attending schools of low progression
  • living in low-participation neighbourhoods
  • mature students from the above groups

The University of Edinburgh believes that diversity is educationally as well as socially desirable, enriching the educational experience for all.

We therefore seek to attract a wide range of applicants from different social, cultural and educational backgrounds.

We work with schools or colleges where relatively few students progress to higher education and those who will be first generation of their families to go to university.

With widening participation at the heart of our agenda, we will deliver an outstanding student experience.

University Strategic Plan 2008-12

Widening Participation is now one of six strategic themes of the University's Strategic Plan:

University of Edinburgh Strategic Plan 2012-16

The strategic themes of particular relevance to Widening Participation are:

  • Enhancing our student experience
  • Engaging with our wider community
  • Promoting equality, diversity, sustainability and social responsibility
  • Stimulating alumni relations and philanthropic giving

Our WP Strategy 2017

The University of Edinburgh new Widening Participation Strategy consultation has now begun. The rationale for a Widening Participation strategy was agreed in November 2016 by the Principal’s Strategy Group.  Subsequently a steering group of University-wide colleagues was established and a consultation was designed. 

Full information about the development of the new WP strategy, including links to workshop materials and steering group membership, is available to University staff on our Wiki (EASE login required):

Widening Participation Strategy on the Wiki

Our Activities

Find out more about our activities and projects here:

WP Projects - Full Details