Widening Participation Case Studies

This page is part of the Inclusion Case Studies from the Inclusion Framework.
The case studies below illustrate how EUTOPIA universities are fighting to make Higher Education accessible to students from all socioeconomic backgrounds.

Please note that the following information is correct at the time of writing (November 2022), but is subject to change.

CY Cergy Paris University

CY tackles educational inequality through a range of programmes, from participation in national initiatives like PaRéO and Cordées de la réussite to the unique annual Cap Fac event.


PaRéO (Passeport pour Réussir et s’Orienter)

The PaRéO is a one-year course offered to prospective students who have completed their baccalaureate but have not obtained the grades required by their chosen degree programme. The diploma enables students to re-cap and consolidate their final year of school, as well as helping them to develop important skills and map out their future study path.

All versions of the PaRéO include training in written and oral expression, digital skills, and engagement with the professional world: students can participate in internships and conferences in order to get a better sense of careers they may want to pursue. The diploma also provides specific opportunities tailored to the subject students are interested in, including a first-year module from the degree programme in question.

The PaRéO development board includes academics, students, and professional-services staff, who review the programmes each year to evaluate and adapt them.

Cordées de la réussite

The national programme Cordées de la réussite (‘ropes of success’) provides guidance to school pupils from the age of 13 onwards, helping them to overcome self-doubt and develop their academic ambitions. It is funded partly by the French government’s France Relaunch plan, initiated in 2020 to support post-Covid recovery.

CY serves as a ‘tête de cordée’ supporting secondary and high school students from local priority areas, and has run several successful projects in recent years focused on STEM subjects. Students receive individual support as well as participating in workshops with fellow students from a range of participating schools. These workshops are supported by volunteers from Afev, an organisation dedicated to fighting social inequality and promoting education in working-class neighbourhoods.

Cap Fac

Cap Fac is an annual three-day programme that introduces pupils from local schools to various aspects of university life. CY have offered this programme to the nine high-schools of Cergy-Pontoise since 2011, and around a hundred school pupils participate every year. The name ‘Cap Fac’ is an abbreviation of the phrase ‘mettre le cap sur la fac’, which means ‘to go to university’, and the initiative aims to make higher education a viable option for a wider range of students.

On each of the three days, participants attend morning sessions with lecturers and students where they learn about the degree programmes on offer, including programmes not available at CY: attendees gain a broad understanding of their options, and are encouraged to consider pathways they might not have been aware of. The afternoons are spent on creative and recreational activities, such as treasure hunts that introduce students to the facilities available at CY. On the final evening there is a celebratory dinner, to which parents are also invited.

University of Warwick

Warwick’s Widening Participation and Outreach team runs a wide range of activities, both at schools and on campus, to inspire young minds and maximise their potential. Here we highlight some key policy-level, nationwide, and on-the-ground initiatives that demonstrate Warwick’s commitment to Widening Participation.


Access and Participation Plan

The Office for Students (OfS) (the independent regulator of Higher Education in England) requires universities to create Access and Participation Plans (APPs) describing their ambitions, targets, proposed implementation measures, and the investments they will make to deliver the plan. Read Warwick’s APP for 2020-25. The OfS provides regulatory guidance on APPs and monitors universities’ implementation of them.

Advancing Access

Advancing Access is an initiative of 24 leading UK universities which provides free resources and training events for school teachers and careers advisers. The aim is to help students choose the right university and course for them, and understand and navigate the admissions process. Warwick is proud to contribute to this initiative, which is benefitting students across the UK.

Pathways to the Professions

Warwick offers two-year Pathways programmes that give students (aged 16 or above) practical advice about university and the workplace in relation to Law, Banking & Finance, or Engineering. Participants can access academic lectures, employer engagement activities, and CV-writing support. Besides the pathways, other programmes offered to pre-entry students include Realising Opportunities, A-Level Revision Bootcamps, and Discover Warwick Day.

Warwick Scholars

The Warwick Scholars programme is the university’s flagship access and participation programme. It supports students before, during, and after their studies over a (minimum) five-year period, promoting their academic, personal, and professional development. There are currently over 275 members of the Warwick Scholars community, including alumni who remain connected to the network. Scholars can access or apply for a range of experiences, such as the upReach employability programme, travel opportunities (such as the 2019 trip to Malaysia), and a £2000-per-year bursary.