Widening Participation in Higher Education

FOR MANY CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE, a visit to a University Museum will be the first contact they have with a Higher Education Institution. Museums can provide friendly and engaging experiences, and hence play an important role in stimulating an interest in further study and overcoming barriers to higher education. Through their work with widening participation target schools, University Museums help to raise and broaden the aspirations of children, their families and teachers.

University Museums have well-established relationships with schools, and have worked with them to develop a wide range of stimulating curriculum-linked resources and activities. Popular subjects for primary school visits include Ancient Egypt and Greeks and Romans, but museums are supporting a much wider range of subjects across the early years, primary and secondary curricula. These include Business Studies, Modern Foreign Languages and Citizenship, Art and Design; museums also contribute to fostering interest and understanding of STEM subjects. The breadth of University Museum collections and the subject knowledge upon which they can draw enables them to respond flexibly to the needs of schools, in many cases acting as a link with a range of academic departments; some offer work experience opportunities for students from target schools.

Research studies carried out in University Museums have substantially contributed to understanding of the impact and value of learning outside the classroom, to observation and description skills around object-based learning and the development of best practice in museum education.

Schools and colleges access research expertise and work experience opportunities

Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Oxford University molecular biology workshops

Oxford University Museum of Natural History, with support from the Wellcome Trust and the Association for Science and Discovery Centres, delivers practical molecular biology workshops to A Level students from local schools. Using research-standard equipment, students extract, amplify and visualise their own DNA, complemented by museum-based work on fossil evidence for human evolution. Workshops are ... more »

Animating Art History Courtauld Institute of Art

Animating Art History is an on-going widening participation partnership between The Courtauld Institute of Art and University of the Arts London. Each year, twenty six young people aged 16-19, from families with no prior engagement in higher education, take part in the innovative course which combines art history, photography and animation. Following research and experimentation ... more »

Widening Participation Officer University of Cambridge

The Children and Young Peoples’ Widening Participation Officer at the University of Cambridge Museums (UCM) is a new post jointly funded by Arts Council England through the Major Partner Museum programme, and the University’s Widening Participation Project Fund. Through exciting and participative projects, the role is building sustainable partnerships with young people in target schools ... more »