Skip to main content


Cardiff and Widening Access

21 September 2014

The University’s strategic direction, as set out in The Way Forward 2012-17, and the Education and Students supporting strategy states that Cardiff will recruit the brightest students from all strata of society with a particular focus on underrepresented groups.

Widening Access (WA) at Cardiff addresses the recruitment, retention, progression and success of students from a wide variety of groups traditionally under-represented in higher education (HE).

WA is a key plank of the Welsh Government’s Policy Statement on Higher Education. The University’s performance is measured annually through the Annual Fee Plan by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.

The University’s WA activities help breakdown traditional barriers to HE and dispel the myth that access to a Russell Group university, like Cardiff, is for a privileged few. It focusses on working with young people in Welsh Communities First Clusters, providing advice, guidance and support throughout their time at the University, with access to tailor-made activities and events.

Cardiff is embedding widening access and participation within admissions processes, including by enhancing contextual admission procedures to support those from low HE participation backgrounds, as well as providing appropriate support to enable successful progression through programmes of study and into employment or further study.

The University has a strong track record in WA activities:

  • It works with more than 100 schools and colleges in disadvantaged areas across Wales to raise aspirations and broaden awareness of HE.
  • More than 1,500 sixth form students benefit each year from our general widening access programmes.
  • More than 15,000 Welsh pupils in Years 10 and 11 benefit from the Higher Education Roadshow, a joint venture between Cardiff University and Cardiff Metropolitan University which engages pupils and encourages them to continue in education.
  • Cardiff is among the top three universities in Wales for the number of Communities First students it welcomes each year. (HESA standard registration population 2011/12 & 2012/13)
  • Each year more than 100 students who engage in the Step Up to University programme (the University’s main WA activity) secure places to study an undergraduate degree at Cardiff. Many others secure places at other HEIs. Approximately 50 of these students receive the Next Step Bursary (one-off payment of £1,000).
  • The WA Team organises three Residential Summer Schools aimed at underrepresented groups:
    • The Summer School for Step Up students aims to give young people a taste of university life
    • The unique Discovery Summer School for young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders
    • The Confident Futures Summer School for young people in care
  • Cardiff was the first University to engage actively with care leavers in Wales and continue to innovate in this area. In 2014/15, the University has 29 care leavers.
  • The University is in receipt of the Frank Buttle Trust Quality Mark in recognition of the “exemplary level of support” given to looked after children and people leaving care to help them progress in HE. The University offers a package of support for care leavers and looked after children to help with the transition to HE and over the duration of their studies with us.
  • Cardiff is part of the Reaching Wider South Wales partnership, First Campus, providing workshops for younger age groups to raise attainment through Maths & English GCSE revision classes and events linked to STEM and MFL.
  • Cardiff is a member of University Network (UNet). UNet is a collaborative partnership of leading universities (Bath, Oxford, Reading, Southampton) aiming to widen access to HE.
  • The University recognises the need to support WA students during the student lifecycle to ensure they succeed. A range of support services are in place to support students during their time at Cardiff. Among them are financial support packages in the form of scholarships, bursaries and financial aid funds to ensure that the cost of study is not a barrier to an education at Cardiff University, and a range of student support services delivered by our two Student Support Centres which include Advice and Guidance, Disability and Dyslexia, Counselling, Careers and Employability and financial support professionals.