Helping potential students of all ages and stages be all they can be

We realise that becoming a university student involves making choices and decisions, the benefits of which last a lifetime. These decisions are harder if your background or circumstances have held you back from reaching your full potential and so obtaining conventional university entrance requirements.

Our job here in Access & Participation (A&P) is to help you succeed in making the right choices and entering tertiary study ready for degree-level study. We know that the formula for success is a fairly simple one:

Success = Potential + Motivation + Demonstrated Ability + Life Chances + Support

We also know that Potential and Motivation are the two most vital ingredients.

Demonstrated Ability, Life Chances and Support tells us little about you and your future, but much about your circumstances and past. We are committed to your future

"This University is serious about widening access."
Sunday Times, 2009

What Access and Participation Aims To Do

  1. Expand opportunity, achievement and attainment and so widen participation through carefully targeted educational opportunities, underpinned by excellence in teaching, research and guidance.
  2. Encourage those who might otherwise not benefit from Higher Education. Outline options and routes open to them and then help them achieve them.
  3. Influence local and national access policy and demonstrate commitment to inclusion through practice.

Courses co-ordinated by Access & Participation

Access & Participation course provision consists of three main types of educational activity - Awareness Raising, Full-time Access and Part-time Access.  Each option is underpinned by appropriate guidance, research and monitoring.

Awareness Raising Activities:

  • Discovering Degrees for School pupils (Jan to Apr) - 8 1-day "taster" days, mainly aimed at S2 (2nd year secondary school);
  • Reach Scotland - a national project which aims to encourage S4-S6 students from 17 target schools to make informed choices about degree level study for high demand professions;
  • ACES - a national project which aims to encourage S4 - S6 pupils from 17 target schools to make informed choices about degree level study in Art & Design and Architecture.
"Since its inception in 1993, the programme has provided almost 1200 individuals with an opportunity to access higher education...I still remain convinced that the University of Dundee DUAL Summer School is one of the most effective widening participation programmes in the UK."
Dr Damian O'Kane, University of Ulster

Full-time DUAL course - intensive preparation leading to qualification:

  • DUAL Summer School - for students lacking conventional entry requirements for a good reason, a 10-week course leading to guaranteed undergraduate places.
    The course is offered free of charge to EU participants. The course is also available in fee-paying 'International' format'

Part-time Online Access course - learn at your own rate online, leading to qualification:

  • Discover Learning at Dundee - for students lacking conventional entry requirements for a good reason but who would prefer a more gradual off-campus course, this module-by-module approach offers an alternative equally enjoyable route to a degree from wherever you can access a pc. The course is offered free of charge to EU participants meeting access criteria and is also available in fee-paying format for those who do not qualify.

Access & Participation Annual Reports

Annual Reports are available for downloading (restricted to UoD Staff)

Staffing and Location

Access & Participation staff are based in No.2 Airlie Place, which provides the friendly "street front" location. As part of the University of Dundee Admissions and Student Recruitment Service, if you visit you can be sure of a warm welcome

Full-time staff
Access & Participation Manager
and Senior Lecturer
Dr J R D Blicharski HND BSc(Hons)
PhD DipMedEd MEd(Hons) FHEA
ACES (Tayside) Outreach Officer Helen Hardman BA(Hons)
Reach Scotland (Tayside) / ACES (Tayside) Data Analyst Steve Hughes
Access & Participation Administrator Jan Murphy
Part-time staff
Reach Scotland (Tayside) / ACES (Tayside) Data Analyst Dr Gemma Gaw BSc (Hons), PhD
Reach Scotland (Tayside) Outreach Officer Fiona Dear MA(Hons), DipCG



Whilst we have offered access courses for decades, the last few years have seen a number of significant developments resulting in the current portfolio, designed to meet the needs of pupils, parents, mature applicants, schools, education departments, HEIs, FEIs, the Careers Service and the Employment Service.

Despite recent developments, going to university still appears to be influenced by many factors beyond ability – finance, postcode and parental background appear to be key factors. The history of widening participation to those who might otherwise not benefit from HE has shown how stubborn some of these barriers can be and has resulted in our multi-pronged approach.

We strive to work with younger school pupils and their parents to let them see that choices made when Standard Grade subjects and levels are chosen represent one of the most important determinants of future educational success. Once on the road to Higher Grades pupils need to know what university can offer and what is expected of them, their parents and siblings. For those who have been held back by verified adversity from taking these steps, Access & Participation provides extra time to qualify and prepare. In addition, those entering university from college or via other routes are supported.

Each year, around one tenth of all University of Dundee undergraduates use an Access & Participation course to facilitate entry. Access & Participation continues to have a strong international reputation as a model of best practice in widening access and more recently a developing record in access research and policy formulation.

"A veteran in the battle of access" ... "data collected provide evidence of the effectiveness of the preparation of these students."
European Access Network Inventory of Access Programs report, September 2009

Our track record in widening participation continues to grow. Since 1993, over 1,600 students have benefited from our DUAL Summer School, which allows potential undergraduates of all ages to qualify, prepare and progress to a degree. The course has a 95% completion rate - over 85% of those who complete the course progress to university the same year. Whilst these students, on average, have less than 50% of our normal undergraduate entry grades, they progress well within the University and to date have graduated with degree classifications above the Scottish average.

Access & Participation is specifically charged with encouraging school pupils to appreciate the benefits offered by Higher Education and, as a direct consequence, take greater ownership of their learning, attainment and future. Each Spring Discovering Degrees for Schools offers an important route through which school teachers can directly help their pupils raise attainment and more recently the Reach and ACES projects have added further momentum to our support for learning.