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Opportunities in Widening Participation


Academics and PhD students are invited to contribute to our Widening Participation (WP) programmes, activities, and events.

The University of Exeter has a key objective to ensure that all students, from every background, are supported to access, succeed in, and progress from, higher education (HE). 

The central Student Recruitment and WP team organise and run a large programme of face-to-face on-campus, face-to-face off-campus, and virtual WP events targeted at students from a range of underrepresented and often disadvantaged backgrounds in partner schools and colleges across the country. Some of these events offer an insight into the subjects available to study at university and to help participants make informed decisions about their future, while others focus on providing general advice and guidance about higher education and student life. 

The contribution made to these events from members of the academic community is essential for ensuring an exciting and authentic experience of the kind of teaching and research carried out at the University of Exeter. By supporting WP activity, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Showcase and disseminate your research
  • Receive support with adapting outreach materials to suit younger age groups and diverse audiences  
  • Receive support to reach out to a large number of schools from all across the country 
  • Enrich your teaching skills or develop teaching experience
  • Become part of a network of excellent practitioners across the University
  • Share your passion
  • Inspire and work with students from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds and make a difference in their lives

The team also have established relationships with a wide range of schools and partner organisations who take part in WP activity.  These relationships are underpinned by data linked to school attainment and student body demographics allowing a refined and evidence based approach to working with particular groups of schools and students.  

If you are interested in getting involved in WP activity at the University of Exeter, please submit this registration of interest form.

Guided by College level annual WP Action Plans the team delivers a wide range of events and activities both on campus and in schools with the objective of raising awareness with prospective students of the wide range of subjects taught at the University of Exeter.

Event examples (both face-to-face and virtual) relevant to academics and PhD students may include:

  • Subject taster sessions - lectures/seminars/workshops/conferences - usually based on the speaker's research interests and specialisms 
  • 'Why Study [insert Subject]' talks 
  • Supporting Higher Education events
  • Creation or development of resources
  • Project work sessions - guiding students on a project over multiple sessions

We primarily work with young people aged 13 and above and use a range of delivery models to develop transferable skills and subject knowledge, help schools deliver against their teaching curriculum and ensure participants are making informed decisions about their futures. In certain subject areas we also have activity linked to working with mature and primary aged students.

One of the key ways that we make the University of Exeter stand out in events of this kind is using our cutting edge research and teaching excellence to make the link between subjects and real life. Using this relationship often makes new subjects seem within reach and inspires participants to find out more about the opportunities that can open for them through higher education and beyond.

Examples of feedback from students on academics and PhD students who delivered WP content:

  • "Very brilliant style of teaching, really thought provoking"
  • "The session challenged my perspective and made me think differently"
  • "Amazing quality teaching from the lecturer!"
  • "The lecturer was so enthusiastic! Made me feel so excited about studying at degree level"
  • "The topics were incredibly interesting and the lecturer was really passionate about them which ensured it was enjoyable throughout"
  • "I have learnt more and feel more confident in the prospect of university"

If you are interested in delivering face-to-face and/or virtual sessions or supporting our events please submit this registration of interest form or contact or the relevant college lead, who can provide advice and support about exciting opportunities to get involved with!

Taking a joined up approach to working with schools for the purpose of WP, student recruitment, research dissemination and discipline specific outreach means we can better monitor the effectiveness of activity and share practice to help develop the high quality and exciting opportunities.

Scalability of our activities and being able to take disciplines on the road to a national WP audience is a growing priority for the University and again collaboration allows the team to help focus staff resource on those schools and students who can benefit the most.Exeter. 

In support of this we are inviting academic colleagues, early career researchers and postgraduate students to get in touch if they are writing a funding bid and would like to include WP in relation to research impact and public engagement or if they are at the point of concluding research and have an output to share with schools and WP students. We are also keen to support the operationalising of any wider outreach proposals through WP, including those developed through external partnerships with other universities or education related organisations.

The central WP team can support with evidencing research dissemination, with using data to target the most underrepresented schools and students in particular disciplines and with the logistics of running events and event/resource promotion.

There is also limited funding available to support the creation of resource boxes or interactive sessions that can take individuals own area of specialism to the classroom in a new and innovative way.  Successful proposals that will not just inspire young people to consider studying the subject in future but also show how the work of the University links to the world beyond the campuses and supports participants with their current studies. The subject focus can be as specific as you like but any sessions must allow within them the opportunity to show how the content relates to courses available to study at HE level.  Any proposals should fit within the following parameters and funding provided could go towards either staff time or resources – 

  • Be suitable for a target audience between the ages of 13 to 18
  • Ideally be suitable for delivery both by the proposal lead and also by Student Ambassadors or other members of the WP practitioner community to allow for maximum audience reach
  • Be suitable for varying group sizes, i.e. does not rely on a very small audience for delivery

If you have an idea for a proposal then please complete this Widening Participation Resource Development Project Proposal and return to the relevant College contact as detailed at the bottom of the form. This is an ongoing work stream and therefore there is no formal deadline and we would welcome applications at any stage of the academic year.

If you would like to discuss your research proposal and/or research dissemination, or any other ideas you have for school targeted outreach, then please use the key contacts section below to get in touch with the most relevant member of the team for your discipline.