With support from the University, Villiers Park, a national social mobility charity, will work with hundreds of students from less advantaged backgrounds on its pioneering Future Leaders programme. Future Leaders, introduced in 2020, aims to support young people aged 14-19 in developing self-efficacy and agency in their own futures, and to equip them with the skills, experiences and motivation they need to become leaders in their chosen field.

The partnership will focus on working with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in Hastings and Swindon, both Education Opportunity areas with very low levels of participation in higher education. This will support the University of Bath’s ambitions to attract the best students regardless of background and to become an increasingly diverse institution.

Rae Tooth, Chief Executive at Villiers Park, said: “Over a number of years, the University of Bath has demonstrated its commitment and innovative approaches to improving access, progression and success for students from disadvantaged backgrounds across the UK.

“I am very excited about this new partnership, which brings together the strengths of both the University and Villiers Park to make the biggest possible difference to the significant challenges of social justice in the UK. I am very grateful to the staff at the University of Bath who developed this programme with us in a spirit of curiosity, creativity and tenacity.”

Mike Nicholson, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach at the University of Bath, said: “The University has found that it is able to achieve very positive outcomes from its outreach activity by partnering with organisations like Villiers Park, which has effective and long-standing links to the communities we are seeking to work with. Villiers Park also has a strong commitment to undertaking research to demonstrate the impact and effectiveness of its interventions, which aligns with Bath’s wish to show we are making a clear difference on the opportunities for students who live in areas in which historically there has been limited success in achieving progression to the most selective universities.”

The University will also contribute high-quality subject content from its world-leading academics in STEM subjects. It will help introduce young people to higher education by working with Villiers Park to offer them access to student ambassadors, campus visits and taster lectures, as well as supporting them in making the transition from school or college to university.

To ensure that both partners maximise the impact of this work, widening participation evaluators at the University will be joining Villiers Park’s Community of Practice for research and evaluating the impact of widening participation activity to share their learning across the sector.