Today The Access Project publishes its 2014-15 Impact Report, which details the outstanding achievements of our community of students, schools, volunteers and business partners.

Here Chief Executive of UCAS and Access Project trustee, Mary Curnock Cook, and our Director, Andrew Berwick, outline why our work is so important.


This report sets out clearly the scale of the challenge for disadvantaged students in attending top universities. We report on this annually at UCAS, and although we see improvements, it is still the case that those from the most advantaged backgrounds are over six times more likely to go to a high tariff university than the most disadvantaged. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds have three main challenges: they are more likely to achieve lower grades, less likely to optimise their application to university, and are unlikely to get the support that their more affluent peers take for granted.

The Access Project tackles these challenges. Our volunteer tutor network provides one-to-one support to improve exam performance, and our professional Programme Coordinators support students in school. The results in this report show clearly how these interventions have helped so many talented young people to realise their potential.

This is important for improving social mobility, and increasing diversity in employment. The benefits of The Access Project reach far beyond those experienced by the students we work with (although these alone are compelling); they also benefit the universities they attend, the organisations for which they go on to work, and our society and economy more generally. Those already enjoying the fruits of a great university education will quickly see the potential benefits of reaching out to help disadvantaged students, who might not even know that they could and should be able to reach for the same goals in life.

Mary Curnock Cook, OBE, Chief Executive, UCAS
Trustee, The Access Project


This report is the latest reckoning of our impact. As Director of The Access Project I am hugely proud of the story it tells.

A charity’s impact is not measured in profit, but in the social impact we create. Yet defining this impact and measuring it is not a science. It is an ongoing endeavour – a labour of love – to become more clear-eyed year-on-year as to what is working, and what is not. The evidence of this report suggests that many things are indeed working, and working well.

In 2015 we sent 88 students to selective universities. This is a significant number in a national context, but sadly only because every year a tiny number of our poorest young people enrol at the most selective universities. We are committed to changing this in the coming years and in 2015 we moved closer to this goal with significant increases both in our tutor network and the number of students we work with.

We can’t do this work on our own: The Access Project is a proud part of a wider community making this happen. Our schools have astoundingly high expectations of all their young people, and will accept nothing but the best possible outcome for each student. Likewise, the businesses we work with are serious about promoting diversity and social mobility in their communities, and are pushing us to become better at what we do.

There is so much cause for optimism – and a great deal of hard work ahead. So, to all of our Business Partners and Supporters, our Partner Schools, our Funders, and our volunteers: thank you for all that you have contributed to our success in the last year, and for your support into 2016 and beyond. It is a privilege to work with you.

Andrew Berwick
Director, The Access Project