About us

At The Access Project we support students from under-resourced backgrounds to access top universities, through a programme of tuition and in-school mentoring. We work with them to make strong applications, get the grades and transition to university.

What we do

We support students from under-resourced backgrounds to access top universities, through a combination of tuition and in-school mentoring. We work with them to make strong applications, get the grades and transition to university.

The Access Project was established in 2008 to help talented young people from under-resourced backgrounds gain access to an education at one of the UK’s top universities. We aim to help our students unlock their potential and transform their future prospects.

Since then we have grown quickly and are now working in over 40 schools, with thousands of volunteer tutors supporting close to 2,000 students across London, West Midlands, East Midlands, West Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria.

We’re proud to have been cited as a sector leader in improving university access:

  • Highly Commended, 2018 CSJ Annual Award for Education, Employment and Skills
  • Validated at Level 3 on Nesta’s Standards of Evidence (2016).

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“Programmes like The Access Project have repeatedly demonstrated how much difference they make to the students who work with them, in terms of academic outcomes and progression into higher education, tackling poor attainment, and the poor life chances it leads to.”

John Blake, Director of Fair Access and Participation at Office for Students

Programmes like The Access Project have repeatedly demonstrated how much difference they make to the students who work with them, in terms of academic outcomes and progression into higher education, tackling poor attainment, and the poor life chances it leads to.
John Blake, Director of Fair Access and Participation at Office for Students

Our theory of change

Activities in 2023

  • 12,793 student contact hours (including tuition, workshops and trips)
  • Nearly 700 students went on a total of 14 university trips
  • Over 2,000 students attended at least one workshop

Intermediate outcomes in 2023

  • 92% of our students applied to a top university

Short-term outcomes in 2023

  • 93% of our students said the programme made them more motivated to attend a top university

Exit and long-term outcomes in 2023

  • 79% of our students received an offer at a top university

We support students from under-resourced backgrounds to access top universities. Our theory of change explains how we do that.

The Access Project students on our Oxford trip in 2022
Programme models graphic 2024

Our programme

Our programme combats educational inequality and improves social mobility by raising students’ grades and supporting them to understand the pathway to a top university. In the last 15 years we have provided mentoring and tutoring for more than 10,000 students, changing both their aspirations and life chances. But there is still more work to be done.

Inequality is at its highest in ten years. Exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis, there are currently tens of thousands of under-resourced young people eligible for The Access Project’s support.

By increasing our programme portfolio, we aim to reach even more young people and provide schools with an opportunity to select a package that works for them, at a time when school budgets are tight.

 

Our programme models

Accelerate

The Accelerate programme model has been designed based on the findings from the team’s extensive research into the most impactful aspects of The Access Project’s model. The programme provides schools with a dedicated University Access Officer who provides mentorship to students, guiding them to make informed decisions about their future through university readiness workshops and support sessions. Students also receive one core university trip in Year 12.

Additionally, each student is provided with a volunteer coach. This is a professional who volunteers to deliver six 1:1 skills sessions with a Year 12 student, helping students to develop essential, transferable skills. These sessions focus on building communication, problem solving, collaboration and organisational skills: all skills identified as vital for university and career readiness.

Our Accelerate programme, in line with our growth strategy, will help us reach 500 more students across England in the next two years. The programme model is designed to be scalable, allowing us to enter schools at a lower price point while ensuring that we continue to deliver impact to the young people we work with.

Accelerate Plus

An add-on to our Accelerate programme, Accelerate Plus provides all the benefits of our in-school mentorship with the addition of weekly group tuition sessions, helping students to solidify their subject knowledge and achieve better grades in their A levels.

Gateway

Our Gateway programme gives schools a full package of in-school mentorship alongside weekly one-to-one or group tuition in a subject of the student’s choice. Our trained University Access Officers introduce and guide students through a range of topics on university readiness, including revision, student finance, applications, interview skills and more. Students are also offered enrichment activities such as university trips.

Interested in becoming a partner school?

We are looking for new partner schools from September 2024 onwards. For more information, or an informal chat with our Schools Partnership Manager, Dan Aukett, please email schools@theaccessproject.org.uk.

Programme models graphic 2024
Volunteer Tutoring

Volunteer tutoring

Every year we match thousands of volunteer tutors with a 14 to 18-year-old student from one of our partner schools. Through one hour tutorials each week they support our students to achieve their full potential at GCSE or A level. Across the school year, tutors address the topics that students’ teachers think they need most help with.​ The weekly sessions not only raise grades but improve a young person’s confidence and aspirations.

%

of volunteers feel they are making a positive impact

In-School Mentoring

In-school mentoring

Mentoring support comes from a dedicated member of The Access Project staff who is based in our partner schools. Our University Access Officers provide expert advice from Year 10 to build students’ knowledge and understanding of universities and courses. They also provide one-to-one support and advice on applications and interviews. As part of our mentoring service we organise visits to top universities and run a Medicine and Dentistry Society and an Oxbridge Society.

%

of our students said that they feel more motivated to attend a top university

In-School Mentoring

Transition to university

Young people from under-resourced backgrounds are more likely to face challenges when they get to university. Non-continuation rates among these students are higher than those of their more affluent peers.

We have established our transition programme to support our students with the move to university and ensure they get through their first year and place onto their second. We do this through peer mentoring, information sessions and through the running of our alumni service.

As a person of colour, coming from a deprived area in West Yorkshire, I would like to use my story to motivate other girls and boys like me to follow their dreams and become who they want to become. I have learnt that it takes hard work and the right motivation to reach your goals, but once one goal is met, the rest is just within reach.
Ayesha, a student on The Access Project

Volunteer

Learn new skills, gain useful experience and have a positive impact on a young person’s future.

Partners

Financially supporting our work, setting up an employee volunteering scheme, and providing pro-bono support are just three of the ways organisations and individuals can partner with us.

Schools

 Become a partner school. We provide one-to-one tuition and mentoring for up to 40 students from Years 10 to 13.

Donate

Help us raise funds in support of our charity’s vital work.

Get In Touch

    Contact info

    The Access Project,
    First Floor, Canopi-Borough,
    7-14 Great Dover Street,
    London,
    SE1 4YR

    020 4513 5999
    info@theaccessproject.org.uk

    Media enquiries:
    line: 020 4513 5999 (available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5:30pm)
    media@theaccessproject.org.uk

    The Access Project safeguarding line: 020 4513 5999 (available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5:30pm)

    NSPCC 24 hour line:
    0808 800 5000

    Get in touch

      Contact info

      The Access Project,
      First Floor, Canopi-Borough,
      7-14 Great Dover Street,
      London,
      SE1 4YR

      020 4513 5999
      info@theaccessproject.org.uk

      Media enquiries:
      line: 020 4513 5999 (available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5:30pm)
      media@theaccessproject.org.uk

      The Access Project safeguarding line: 020 4513 5999 (available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5:30pm)

      NSPCC 24 hour line:
      0808 800 5000