Location/geographical coverage

Implemented in Technical University Cluj-Napoca, Transilvania Region, Romania

Replicated in most Romanian universities

Background and description

In order to widen access to higher education, is necessary to offer support and to grow the number of applicants from disadvantaged or under – represented groups who are suitably qualified for access to university level of study. Marketing higher education programs should become more about people, and their diverse stories and experiences, and less about historical dates and buildings.

There is a great need to become more targeted and strategic in university‘s approach to working with schools and community groups in order to ensure our outreach is of optimum value and impact.

Support offered by universities is essential in all stages starting from early engagement, for admission, to progress during studies and to succeed in their carriers. Early and sustained outreach is vital in raising aspirations, particularly within poor families and communities where is no history of members going onto higher education (like poor rural or Roma communities from Romania).

There is also a lack of women in STEM/ Engineering programs all over the world and in Romania we have a similar situation, even if their number increased in the recent years. Nevertheless, we must ensure that all students, regardless of gender, have adequate opportunities to explore science throughout all levels of education including university. Universities must attract the best and brightest minds into the fields that will move us forward.

To widen access to university programs, TUCN has established as one of its main objectives to identify and to offer support for students from all disadvantaged or underrepresented groups for admission and during their studies to ensure they will graduate with success.

Therefore, our university offers financial support such as free tax admission for orphans, social grants for those belonging to low-income families, adapted accommodation and other facilities for students with disabilities (such as those using wheelchairs) and encourage women to become engineers.

TUCN is situated in the city of Cluj Napoca, a city with approximately 100.000 students coming from all regions of Romania. Taking into consideration that living in Cluj-Napoca became very expensive in the last years it is rather challenging for the students from families with low incomes especially from countryside areas to support their accommodation and living costs during their studies. Due to the policy of access widening promoted by TUCN, Roma students were constantly encouraged to continue their education in our higher education system so they can be admitted on separate places and become students in our university, receiving social grants if their family income is low.

Furthermore, an insignificant number of students with disabilities were enrolled several years ago in our university, because of the lack of facilities and support needed by them. Therefore TUCN decided to provide support for all these students belonging to disadvantaged and underrepresented categories .

Stakeholders and Partners

The target groups/Beneficiaries are: students from under-represented groups, some with protected characteristics such as disabled learners, students from ethnic minority backgrounds (like  Roma),

Number of places for Roma students: 5

Numbers of Bachelor students for 2021 who benefit from admission free (including students with parents that are educators): 936

Numbers of Master students for 2021 who benefit from admission free (including students with parents that are educators): 195

Numbers of Bachelor and Master students for 2021 who benefitted from social grants: first semester: 1592, second semester: 1399

Number of students with disabilities hosted in adapted accessible students hostel rooms: 2

The institution involved in the good practice is TUCN through its management board, financial office, admission and administration offices

Methodological Approach

How was the practice implemented?

  • information on admission for students from disadvantaged backgrounds published on all faculties webpages
  • organizing open days at university in order to provide a more personalized approach for interaction with prospective students and to encourage a wider range of students to apply for admission.
  • tutors informed students regarding social grants
  • administrative staff offered support for accommodation in students hostels for students with disabilities (wheelchairs)

Methodological approach:

  • university management decision for financial supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds(orphans) for admission tax free, social grants for the students from disadvantaged backgrounds (rural areas or from families with low income), specific number of places for Roma students
  • university management decision to adapt students’ rooms in university hostel forstudents in wheelchairs

How is the information gathered?

  • before admission during open days events and through events organised within ROSE projects
    • by admission office
    • from tutors responsible for each year of study

How are data compliance and protection issues addressed?

  • Data compliance and protection ensured on GDPR regulations

Explain how this approach is participatory for all and inclusive (inclusive of gender and other underrepresented groups): 

  • TUCN provides clear and understandable messages for all learners with the potential to succeed at the higher education programs and it encourages those from under-represented groups to consider our  university as an attractive choice. Students from these categories receive support before, during and after admission in university

Specify time frame and implementation cost, if available:

  • social grants amount: approximately 120 euro/grant

What resources were used in the implementation:

  • The financial resources for admission, social grants  and adapting students hostel’s rooms for people with disabilities (wheelchair) were provided from university budget.
  • Other resources: academic staff involved in university open days, academic and administrative staff involved in admission, university webmaster, administrative staff from student hostels, etc.


Evaluation: the practice implemented had as results

  • the increased number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds due to admission tax free for orphans, specific number of Roma students in admission, social grants offered to students from low income families , including those from rural communities.
  • access to higher education in technical engineering programs for students with disabilities (students in wheelchairs) due to newly adapted student rooms in university hostel. They are our first students that benefitted from these facilities.

Continuous improvement process:

  • More events for promoting university programs and widening access support should be organized such as : open days, visits and advertising benefits and opportunities to schools  from disadvantaged communities  and to orphanages.
  • Providing access and support for students with disabilities (students in wheelchairs) due to the EIB funding obtained by TUCN  that will support the adaptation of infrastructure to new technologies, the improvement of learning environments, the increase of accessibility for people with disabilities as well as the improvement of the energy efficiency of buildings.
  • obtaining funds to support students through national projects such as the following implemented ones: “Social equity and counselling for access to university studies and career development”, “Counselling and support for access to university studies, reduction of dropout and insertion on the labour market”, “Increasing access to technical higher education and social inclusion through career education”;
  • Confirmation by the beneficiaries that the practice addresses the needs properly. Has the good practice been validated with the stakeholders/final users? Yes.
  • the beneficiaries were the students  from disadvantaged backgrounds (such as students from families with low incomes and from poor rural communities due to social grants, admission tax free for orphans, facilities for students with disabilities)
  • we have the first 2 students accommodated in our university students hostel in rooms adapted for wheelchairs

Innovation potential

Offering support for young people from underrepresented and disadvantaged groups to continue their education at university level was considered an innovative action undertaken by TUCN .

Success Factors

The conditions needed are:

  • funds for financing admission and social grants for disadvantaged groups
  • funds for modernizing and adapting students rooms for people with disabilities
  • availability of academic staff to organize visits to inform students in schools from poor communities
  • availability of academic staff to organize open days


Constraints addressed:

  • sharing information with students from disadvantaged groups (some don’t have access to Internet)-> visits to schools, orphanages
  • there are still some classrooms and laboratories where access is not provided for students using wheelchairs and therefore university applied for the EBI funding to solve these aspects and moved classes, when necessary, in rooms accessible by elevators not only by stairs.

Lessons learned

The students from disadvantaged backgrounds received a significant financial support for admission and during their studies. The practice had a great impact for orphan students who couldn’t afford to pay for their admission and accommodation during the university programs

Students in wheelchairs received student hostels rooms with adapted facilities so they could learn together with other colleagues, they could experience social events with other students.

Students, both men and women, from disadvantaged backgrounds, such as families with low incomes and from poor rural communities are encouraged to access and continue their education at university level due to social grants, admission tax free for orphans, admission separate places for Roma students, facilities for students with disabilities. Young women are encouraged to study STEM disciplines in technical specializations.


The practice has been institutionally, socially, economically sustainable.

The key elements to put in place for the practice to be institutionally, socially, economically and environmentally sustainable are:

  • academic and administrative staff involvement, funds to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds in admission and afterwards, funds for adapting students hostel rooms.

The practice contributes to risk reduction and resilience in our institution, it reduces the abandon of studies for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, ensures the access to higher education for students from low-income families.

The benefits at the institutional, economic and environmental level are more valuable than the costs invested in this practice, ensuring access to education, support during studies and providing assistance and guidance through all educational process.

Replicability and/or up-scaling potential

The practice has been replicated in similar contexts in other universities at national level.

The conditions that should be met/respected to ensure that the good practice is replicated, but adapted to the new context are ensuring the funds for supporting the admission and studies for students from disadvantaged or underrepresented groups. The TUCN gained several projects that promoted access widening for underrepresented and disadvantaged groups, encouraging young students from rural regions, young Roma students, students with disabilities as well as young women to study in technical specializations and to continue their studies in higher education


Testimonials from students accommodated in students hostel rooms for people with disabilities:

Contact details

URL of the practice Reference document

Related Web site(s)

Related resources that have been developed

EUt+: Good Practice on access and widening participation