Widening Participation Success

The History Department has the best record of any department in UCL at converting applications from students at state schools into offers and acceptances. While 59.1% of our applications in 2011-12 came from state schools, 68.9% of our offers went to students at state schools and 72.5% of those who accepted came from that group.

Like other universities that are charging maximum fees, UCL has signed an agreement with the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/widening-participation/access committing the university to admit a certain proportion of students from state schools, from neighbourhoods with very low rates of participation in Higher Education and from the poorest backgrounds. If the History Department’s record at admitting these students were replicated across the university, UCL would meet its target.

As the department’s Admissions Tutor, Dr Jason Peacey, explains: “we take the UCAS process extremely seriously, and take pride in the fact that our admissions process involves the rigorous scrutiny of every single application by members of academic staff. We are also convinced that the procedures we have devised provide the best possible opportunity to identify the most promising students, irrespective of their background”. The department’s Widening Participation Officer, Dr Adam Smith, added: “our aim is to admit the best students we can and I’m delighted that our efforts to increase applications from outstanding students in groups currently under-represented at UCL are paying off. All our students are admitted on merit on the basis of their academic achievements and potential. We recognise that students who have top grades but who attend under-performing schools have demonstrated extraordinary ability.”

As Dr Smith explains: “roughly 85% of students getting A or A* at History A Level go to state schools or colleges, so we still admit substantially more students from independent schools than we would if we had a genuine cross-section of the ‘best’ history students in the country.”

The UCL History department is also one of the most active in UCL at running events aimed at engaging and raising the aspirations of students. Every June we run a three-day summer school for Year 12 state school students in London, and members of the department visit schools, and run ‘taster lectures’ and ‘masterclasses’ throughout the year. For more information about our Widening Participation activities, please contact Adam Smith at a.i.p.smith@ucl.ac.ukImage


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