Widening access to higher education
Since 1823, Birkbeck has forged its own path in higher education, reaching out to working Londoners and making the highest quality university education available to students from less advantaged groups. By 1858, Birkbeck was the first choice for students who wanted a university education but who could not afford to study full-time. This role was formalised in 1920, when Birkbeck officially became part of the University of London.
Read more about Birkbeck's history.
London's evening university
- Our mission to provide the very best university education to the working people of London remains at the heart of the College’s work today. It is now firmly established as London’s evening university, a unique global top 200 institution that offers research-intensive, higher education to non-traditional students of all ages from 18 to 100.
- We educate a community of learners as diverse as the capital city population. Over 20,000 students study with us annually on a wide range of courses to suit every entry level, gaining University of London qualifications
- Evenings are when Birkbeck comes alive, when students arrive from across London to study with us. As London’s evening university, we offer the unique opportunity to fit university study around busy lives - and Birkbeck is geared to supporting the needs of students who are juggling work or other commitments with evening study.
- Students frequently tell us that ‘Birkbeck changed my life’.
Looking eastward: Birkbeck in Stratford
- At a critical time of change for universities and students in England, Birkbeck’s plans breathe new life into its traditional mission and enable the College to continue to balance the highest quality university education with a powerful ongoing commitment to accessibility and social mobility.
- We have recently taken Birkbeck’s unique evening teaching model to Stratford, in east London, where students from hard-to-reach communities - who may not otherwise consider higher education - now have the opportunity to access the highest quality university education on their doorstep.
- In autumn 2013, a new Birkbeck campus run jointly with the University of East London will open in Stratford.
Creating bridges into university for non-traditional students
The development and successful delivery of our Stratford campus has strongly influenced the College’s wider plans to widen access and attract the least advantaged from across London.
- Birkbeck has established a range of ‘getting started’ programmes that reach out to students without traditional qualifications, wherever they are in London, and create bridges that enable them to aspire to a university degree.
- The College’s Higher Education Introductory Studies (HEIS) courses act as an access-type programme and are now available across London. Success on these programmes often leads straight onto the second year of an undergraduate degree programme.
Understanding retention and helping realise potential
- Our specialist approach to retention confirms our strong commitment to recruiting and maintaining a socially and culturally diverse student population.
- We recognise that retention is a key factor in assuring and enhancing successful learning for our diverse student body and ensuring equity of access to learning support for our students.
- Birkbeck is committed both to recruiting more non-traditional students and to ensuring the best possible support in enabling them successfully to complete their studies.
Financial support for students
- Our financial support packages support our widening access traditions, and aim to help students with low income to benefit from studying at Birkbeck.
Widening Access and Retention team
- The Widening Access and Retention team at Birkbeck provides a series of interventions at all stages of the student journey – from first enquiry and course selection, right through to arrival as a student at Birkbeck. We aim to raise the aspirations and the confidence of students from hard-to-reach and non-traditional groups, most of whom are out of formal education and don’t have the benefits of school or college HE advisors around them to help them find their way into university.
- Our Widening Access and Retention team organise a range of events for prospective students. We also work with a wide range of organisations, including further education colleges, Sixth Form colleges, Trades Unions and community groups to help promote progression to higher education.
- Contact our Widening Access and Retention team to find out how we can help you.