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Targeting and eligibility

Background – the Office for Students

As the university sector’s regulator, the Office for Students is leading a national drive to eliminate inequalities in Higher Education.

All universities must develop an Access and Participation Plan, and submit it for the approval of the OfS. The Plan must reflect the gaps in access to the institution, differences in the attainment and retention of current students, and students’ progression to employment once they graduate.

Universities must develop efficient, appropriate methods to close the specific gaps at each institution. These methods vary, and can include financial support packages, initiatives that support key student cohorts, and provision of Access and Outreach programmes for students before they apply for university.

You can find a full record of St Mary’s University, Twickenham’s Access and Participation Plans, and previous Access Agreements, on the OfS Website.

Our aims

At St Mary’s, the Widening Participation and Outreach team works to improve access to university for groups that are underrepresented in Higher Education. To achieve this, we collaborate with local outreach partnerships and charities, and also offer sustained programmes to a group of target schools and colleges.

St Mary’s Outreach programmes are targeted towards students who meet Widening Participation criteria, and we intend to see students at multiple events over time. We use the NERUPI framework to design activities, aiming for them to deliver specific positive outcomes (such as developing a skill, or gaining confidence).

We work alongside Student Recruitment to support people before they apply to university, and monitor the university’s overall progress in meeting the Access targets in our Access & Participation Plans. 

Eligibility for outreach programmes

Our outreach programmes are offered to a targeted group of schools and colleges. We prioritise schools by location, rates of deprivation (IMD), Free School Meals eligibility, and local HE progression rates. We also seek to support underrepresented groups within Further Education Colleges, including Mature students.

If we don’t already work with your school or college, we’d be happy to hear from you. We are a small team, but where we have the capacity, we aim to be flexible to meet the needs of underrepresented students. If you would like to get in touch about working with the Widening Participation and Outreach or Student Recruitment teams, please email

Underrepresented groups

Some examples of the underrepresented groups/ targeting criteria for outreach activities are listed below:

  • Students living in areas with low progression to Higher Education
  • Students with a disability
  • Students from low-income households (e.g. eligible for Free School Meals)
  • Students from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities
  • Students from some Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups (BAME)
  • Students whose parents did not attend university
  • Looked After Children and Care Leavers
  • Children from Military families
  • Refugees & Asylum Seekers
  • People estranged from their families
  • Young Carers

Data – Privacy Statement 

The Widening Participation and Outreach team collects data from those participants aged 13+ (or parents and carers) who consent to share it with us. This allows us to monitor participation in activities, evaluate our outcomes, and make reports to the OfS on how effectively we are meeting our access targets. Although it is very helpful when outreach participants are able to share this data, it is not mandatory for participants to share it. If a student or their parent/ guardian does not want to complete a full Student Information form, they are not required to share their data in order to participate in outreach activities.

For full information on how the Widening Participation and Outreach team uses different types of data to plan, monitor, evaluate and report on our projects, please see the following documents:

If you have any queries regarding the Widening Participation and Outreach team’s targeting criteria or data collection, you can contact the team directly:

Nancy Bentley – Widening Participation and Outreach Manager
Tel: 020 8240 4247