About us

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

What We Do

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

The Access Project was established in 2008 to help talented young people from disadvantaged backgrounds gain access to an education at one of the UK’s top universities. Through a unique programme of in-school mentoring and personalised tuition, we aim to help our teenagers unlock their potential and transform their future prospects.

Since then we have grown quickly and are now working in 35 schools, with thousands of volunteer tutors supporting over 1,900 students across London, West Midlands, East Midlands and West Yorkshire. We are also expanding into the North West in September 2022.

The Access Project has 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 2021

  • Nearly 40,000 hours of tutoring in 2021
  • 21 tutorials per student average
  • Just under 10,000 hours of mentoring support received

Intermediate outcomes in 2021

  • 92% of our students applied to a top university

Short-term outcomes in 2021

  • 91% said the programme had given them a better understanding of how to get to a top university

Exit and long-term outcomes in 2021

  • 67% of our students placed at a top university

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

The Access Project students on our Oxford trip in 2022

Our programme

What makes our programme unique is that it comprises both tutoring and mentoring. Through rigorous measurement and data analysis, we know that it is the combination of these interventions that gives our young people the highest chances of getting into a top university.

Our students are twice as likely to place at a top university, compared to statistically similar students

The Access Project students on our Oxford trip in 2022
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 students surveyed said their tutorials are helping them to make progress in their tutored subject

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 students surveyed felt supported by their University Access Officer throughout the pandemic

In-School Mentoring

Transition to university

Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to face challenges when they get to university. Non-continuation rates among disadvantaged 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 Dock, Tobacco Quay,
      Wapping Lane,
      London,
      E1W 2SF

      Unit 302B, JQ Modern
      120 Vyse Street
      Birmingham, B18 6NF

      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 Dock, Tobacco Quay,
        Wapping Lane,
        London,
        E1W 2SF

        Unit 302B, JQ Modern
        120 Vyse Street
        Birmingham, B18 6NF

        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