Location/geographical coverage

University of Leeds, Leeds and surroundings, UK

Background and description

The programme has three main strands:

Transition: Starting university is a huge life change. We’re here to help you settle in and build your new home here. But there’ll be lots of transitions throughout your time at Leeds- perhaps you are privately renting for the first time, or you’re starting to write your dissertation. We’re here to support you with these changes throughout your time here.

Success: support to student success- personally and academically. We do this by helping students access support they might need so that they can focus on their studies.

Progression: exclusive support to help students achieve post-university goals (or work out what they are) from the very first weeks at Leeds. From assessment centre practice runs to mentoring, dedicated contacts within the Careers Service, where students have priority support.

Support is available in the form of guidance, networking with employers, insight days in various industries and more specifically:

  • Inclusive opportunities and sourcing graduate vacancies
  • Postgraduate scholarships
  • Tailored events and podcasts with a focus on getting ahead in Recruitment
  • Leeds mentoring opportunities
  • Developing a professional image

Also there is the Opportunities Fund for financial support for professional development opportunities like internships, interviews and conferences.

Funding is available for Internships, Work Experience and Volunteering


  • Attendance at conferences (virtual or in person)
  • Accessing Lifelong Learning Centre / University of Leeds
  • events
  • Attendance at an interview or assessment centre
  • Attendance at a career insight day
  • Attendance at a network event in your field of study/
  • chosen career area
  • Short courses/ training, for example an Online Marketing
  • course offered outside of the university

Program vision:

The University will be a place where students from diverse backgrounds feel they belong, can thrive, and are valued for their contribution.

The scheme has supported more than 2,000 students who progressed through Access to Leeds or other routes, providing opportunities to develop new skills, develop networks with potential employers and gain a taste of the world of work or further study.

Stakeholders and Partners

Students supported include:

  • Students eligible for contextual admissions schemes
  • (such as our Access to Leeds, Reach for Excellence,
  • and Realising Opportunities programmes)
  • Students who are care experienced
  • Students who do not have parental
  • support (i.e. estranged)
  • Students entering university from a
  • geographical area of low participation
  • Undergraduate means tested scholars
  • Leeds Masters scholars
  • Students from ethnicities underrepresented at the university
  • Refugees and asylum seekers
  • Students with current or prior caring responsibilities

Methodological Approach

Comprehensive support provided in different stages of student life – at enrollment phase, during studies and at transition to work phase.

Diverse support team leading on the Program topics including:

  • PlusProgramme strategy, graduate outcomes, and our work on widening participation into postgraduate study
  • student retention, equality and inclusion and sense of belonging
  • transition to higher education and through university, student finance and student wellbeing
  • employability, forced migrant students and evaluation
  • transitional activity for new students, peer mentoring and undergraduate scholarships
  • student voice, student involvement and engagement of students from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds
  • estranged and care experienced students, students with caring responsibilities and mature students
  • Plus Programme communications to students and our activities and support for postgraduate students

Strong inter-institutional partnership with different faculties, Career service, Lifelong Learning Centre and student Success project.


“I have felt like a part of a supportive community and the Plus Programme has genuinely helped me to settle in well and get rid of the imposter syndrome I so often experience”.

“The Plus Programme has helped me gain confidence in different skills and knowing that I have loads of things to talk about as I graduate. For me it’s just been part of my degree, a big part of it….and it’s just been a source of constant support really”.

Third Year Undergraduate Sustainability and Environmental Management student

Innovation potential

Funding in the amount of 500 pounds annually per student  available to cover for the costs related to professional career path and increasing employability of the underrepresented students

Success Factors

Early and ongoing support provision

Needs based – designed to support underrepresented groups of students in a participatory manner

Flexible and adaptable – Expanding work with Taught Postgraduate students

dedicated team of 4 graduates supporting the progression of underrepresented students – University’s Employability and Progression Assistants (graduates from underrepresented backgrounds)

A variety of resources provided at the basecamp for different groups of underrepresented students

Lessons learned

To embed increased student involvement into Access and Student Success work and policy-making at the University of Leeds, the Plus Programme is providing a mechanism and a forum to facilitate regular dialogue and collaboration between staff and students.

The Student Involvement project will offer a platform for students to work with the University to co-create policy and be even more involved in the development, delivery and evaluation of Widening Participation activity

Contact details


URL of the practice Reference document



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