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Schools and colleges

Outreach activities and projects

We work with schools to support young people to make informed decisions about their futures.

Our outreach team is passionate about minimising the barriers which can prevent students from accessing higher education.

We offer young people from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented at university, support, advice and guidance through a range of interactive activities and events. This may include workshops, presentations or visits to campus. If you would be interested in arranging any of these activities for your school or organisation, please contact

About our projects

We deliver targeted projects to pupils who are statistically from backgrounds less likely to progress to higher education.

These include:

  • Pupils from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds
  • Care experienced pupils
  • Estranged pupils who are studying without the support of their family
  • Pupils with disabilities, long term health or mental health conditions or learning difficulties
  • Pupils with caring responsibilities
  • Pupils who would be the first in their immediate family to attend higher education
  • Military service children
  • Refugees or asylum seekers
  • Pupils who live in a low participatory postcode
  • Mature students

Our work aligns with the University's Access and Participation Plan.


Widening participation projects

ECHEO (Ethnic and Cultural Higher Education Outreach)

Our ethnic and cultural inclusivity outreach work includes 2 projects:


Encompass is an outreach opportunity for Black, Asian or minority ethnic students in year 12 to learn more about studying geography at university level. The programme has been designed in collaboration with Black Geographers.

Participants will attend a full day of workshops at York St John, go on a field trip, and be offered a place on Discover YSJ (our year 12 summer school).



YAY YSJ is a mentoring programme for South Asian pupils in year 10 which runs in collaboration with the QED Foundation, across a select number of secondary schools in Bradford.

Mentoring is tailored to participants' specific aims and interests and focuses on a range of areas such as effective revision, goal setting, thinking about future careers and making a solid path towards future aspirations.

The mentoring scheme culminates in a celebration evening at York St John, and all participants have the opportunity to be nominated for an award in a new category at the prestigious Yorkshire Asian Young Achievers (YAYA) awards.


Summer Schools

Our summer schools are a chance for young people to experience a taste of university life at York St John University.

We run residential summer schools for Year 10 and Year 12 pupils. All our residentials are completely free to attend and accommodation, food and transport are provided. We believe that education should be accessible to all and priority places for our residentials are given to pupils from groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education.

Our summer schools aim to help participants make informed decisions about their futures. Pupils that attend our summer schools will experience a range of social, academic and interactive information sessions.

Applications for our Year 12 summer school, Discover YSJ, are now open.

Discover YSJ  

Information about upcoming summer schools will be shared on our Summer schools page. For general enquiries please email


Primary school outreach

Our primary school outreach includes 2 projects:

Let's Do Uni Club

We invite year 6 pupils from partner primary schools in York onto campus for 3 days during October half term to find out what it's like to be a student. This year pupil's got involved with interactive academic subjects, from fashion marketing to policing. They also explored the campus and created a gallery of work to showcase to their families.

Read with YSJ

This strand of the project sees student volunteers going in to partner primary schools to support key stage 2 pupils with guided reading.

If your primary school is interested in being involved in either of the above, or would like to arrange a visit to campus or in school workshop, please contact


Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities

We work in partnership with York Travellers Trust to support a small group of young travellers.

We can also arrange bespoke interventions such as workshops or visits to campus for individuals or groups of young Gypsy Roma or Travellers. To find out more please email


Care experienced pupils

Our 'On Track' partnership is a collaboration between higher education institutions and Virtual Schools in York and North Yorkshire. We provide campus visits and bespoke offers of support.

We can also arrange visits, workshops or support for pupils with experience of local authority care or care leavers. To arrange this, please email

You can also find out more about support for care leavers at York St John on our Support for our diverse community page.


Students with caring responsibilities

This project is aimed at supporting students who identify as carers and are thinking about joining university.

We offer bespoke onsite campus visits and ad-hoc campus tours, including the opportunity to speak to our Widening participation team and former York St John students who were carers.

Explore our booklet below to find out more about support that students with caring responsibilities can receive at York St John and within the wider York community:

Students with Caring Responsibilities booklet (PDF, 1.5 MB)

For more information, please contact:

Coastal Outreach - Making Waves

Our Making Waves project works specifically with young people from schools along the North Yorkshire Coast in Whitby, Scarborough, Filey and Bridlington. The project aims to give students the tools that they need to make informed decisions about their futures and widen access to higher education.

Students from these areas face barriers to studying at university due to the rural and coastal nature of the towns they are from, where there is little industry and they are geographically isolated from larger cities. As well as learning about higher education, students involved will also be considering their future aspirations and building transferable skills. We work with young people from Year 7 to 10, through both whole year group activities and targeted, more intensive events with selected pupils. Events in this project include in-school IAG sessions, on-campus visits and residential opportunities.

If you would like your school to be involved, please contact:

Mature learners

Arrange a chat

Students returning to study after being out of education for 3 years or more are classed as mature students. Mature students are often over 21 when they begin their undergraduate degree.

If you are considering returning to study, you can arrange to chat to a member of our Widening Participation Team who will be able to offer advice and guidance about higher education, as well as the support offered at York St John.

Please use the below form to specify a potential date and preferred contact method (telephone call, video call, email or in-person at our York Campus), and a member of the team will be in touch.

Arrange a chat

Mature Learner Evening

Our annual Mature Learner Evening is a great chance to meet and network with fellow mature applicants and students. You can tour our campus, chat to support teams from across the University and learn more about the services we offer to mature students.

Our next Mature Learner Evening is taking place on Thursday 25 April 2024. Find out more and book your place below.

Mature Learner Evening

Widening Participation newsletter

Each term the Widening Participation team send out a newsletter to our key contacts in schools and colleges. The newsletter contains information about current and upcoming outreach activity, as well as details about our team and what we have been up to.

If you would like to be added to our newsletter mailing list, please email

Explore our most recent newsletter below:

Widening Participation Newsletter - Spring 2024 (PDF, 0.3 MB)

Meet us

All prospective students are also invited to our recruitment events, including:

You can find out more information about these events by emailing