Help improve equality of opportunity

We encourage all students to work with their university or college on their plans to address inequalities in higher education.

What's the problem?

Some groups of people are less likely to access higher education. Many do not achieve the qualifications needed to study at university or college, and these gaps in achievement are apparent from a young age.

There is also inequality between groups once they get into university or college. Some people are more likely to do well than others, even when their prior academic performance is the same.

What does the Office for Students do to help?

Our work on equality of opportunity is wide-ranging. A significant part of it is asking universities and colleges to produce access and participation plans. In these plans, universities and colleges identify the things that can be a barrier or risk to equality of opportunity, and detail what they will do to tackle those.

Our goal is to ensure that all students, from all backgrounds, with the ability and desire to undertake higher education, are supported to access, succeed in, and progress from higher education.

Why we're asking for new access and participation plans

We recently adopted a new approach to regulating equality of opportunity. Central to this approach is an Equality of Opportunity Risk Register (EORR), which sets out the many potential barriers to access, participation and progression.

In 2023, a small set of volunteer providers submitted new access and participation plans for 2024-25.

Find out more about why and how access and participation plans are changing

Why it's important to have your say

When your university or college produces an access and participation plan, they should consult their students. We also invite students to comment independently to us through the student submission, which helps us to make a decision on whether or not to approve the plan. This is therefore an opportunity for you to influence how your university or college addresses risks to equality of opportunity.

Read more about why it's important to get involved

How to have your say

We expect universities and colleges to meaningfully involve students in the design of access and participation plans. They should consult and engage with representative bodies such as students' unions, include students on decision making panels and engage with students from a diverse range of backgrounds to gain representative feedback.

We also invite student bodies to share their views on access and participation plans directly with us through a student submission.

Find out more about ways to share your views

Contact us

If you have any questions, please email us:

[email protected]

Published 14 June 2023

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