Access and participation plans

Access and participation plans set out how higher education providers will improve equality of opportunity for students from disadvantaged backgrounds to access, succeed in, and progress from higher education.

They detail the intervention strategies and activities that providers will make to address risks to equality of opportunity over a four year period, and how they will measure and evaluate their impact. A university or college must have an access and participation plan if:

  • they are registered with the Office for Students in the 'Approved (fee cap)' category
  • they want to charge above the basic tuition fee cap.

What should a plan include?

A provider's access and participation plan sets out:

  • the risks to equality of opportunity that the provider has identified as relevant to their context, informed by the access and participation data dashboard and the Equality of Opportunity Risk Register
  • ‘intervention strategies’ or the actions providers will take to challenge risks to equality of opportunity and the outcomes they expect to achieve
  • how the provider plans to evaluate the impact of their work
  • the investment providers plan to make on access and participation work.

Providers also publish a summary of their plan, which sets out key points in an accessible way.

Find an access and participation plan or access agreement
Published 12 December 2018
Last updated 07 December 2023
07 December 2023
Page updated to reflect new access and participation plans
29 March 2023
Page refreshed in line with our new approach to equality of opportunity
08 March 2023
Note about our approach to the submission of access and participation plans in 2023 added
06 October 2022
Added link to consultation on a new approach to regulating access and participation in English higher education
22 June 2022
Video added - 'What is an access and participation plan?'
12 April 2022
Link added to advice on variation requests to cover 2023-24 plans
15 March 2022
Page updated with new access and participation priorities
25 October 2021
Link added to new variation requests page
06 October 2021
Link added to National outreach coverage project targeting tool
20 April 2020
One link updated and minor wording updates

Describe your experience of using this website

Improve experience feedback
* *

Thank you for your feedback