The University of Warwick will be piloting a new programme to widen the participation of local students from disadvantaged backgrounds, which will admit students with A-level grades as low as 3Cs.
The new Warwick Scholars programme is the first of its kind and will make 500 offers each year to these students, who will have to meet entry requirements lowered by up to four A-level grades.
In addition to a 50% discount on tuition fees, the students will also receive bursaries of up to £2,000 annually, and can apply for further support which could increase the bursary to £5,000.
Warwick’s actions comes after the higher education watchdog, the Office for Students (OfS), called for universities to widen access of disadvantaged students.
The programme will apply to sixth-form and college students who are UK-based and within a 30-mile radius of Warwick’s campus, which includes areas such as Coventry and Warwickshire, as well as parts of Solihull and Birmingham.
Explaining this requirement, Warwick’s vice-chancellor Stuart Croft said: “In our region we are not successful enough at supporting young people with talent. When they are successful, we lose far too many of those students to London. So one of the things we want to do is try to help build a cohort of people who succeed and stay in the region, and contribute to its social and economic success.”
He added: “By focusing on our local region we not only give something significant back to our community, it is also one of the most effective ways of targeting and reaching young people who have the ability to benefit from a leading university but face other social or economic barriers.”
To qualify for the Warwick Scholars programme, students will also have to meet eligibility criterion for their GCSE grades.
“In our region we are not successful enough at supporting young people with talent”
– Stuart Croft
In addition, they have to fit two criteria out of a list which includes attending an underperforming school, receiving free school meals, and living in a neighbourhood where fewer students attend university.
These students will further receive mentoring from Warwick undergraduates, including a pre-exam bootcamp.
The £10 million programme will begin this summer, to prepare the first sixth-formers ahead of the 2020 intake.
“We’ve found that there is no statistical evidence at all that students who come in through those routes do worse than students who come through traditional routes, on the work we’ve done with our own students over the last six years. It makes us confident for us to scale up in this kind of way,” Mr Croft elaborated.