The Impact of Widening Participation Admissions Policies on Science Foundation Year Students’ Experience

  • Beverley J Allan University of Nottingham
  • Caroline M Anderson University of Nottingham
Keywords: inclusive admissions, widening participation, foundation programme


The admissions policy for the Science Foundation Year at the University of Nottingham has recently been broadened through consideration of Widening Participation criteria. Students with A-levels that are accepted for direct entry onto undergraduate science degrees but at lower grades are now considered provided they meet the criteria associated with the University’s Flexible Admissions Policy. Analysis of module and overall programme outcomes for the 2019-20 cohort indicates that students with two or more science A-levels outperformed those with one or no science A-levels during closed-book assessments, but this gap narrowed when students completed open-book assessments. Students reported that they enjoyed being in a diverse community and particularly valued the opportunities for peer support that the mixed cohort offered.


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Author Biographies

Beverley J Allan, University of Nottingham

Beverley Allan completed her PGCE in 2004 after a brief career in atmospheric chemistry research, and since then has been involved in learning and teaching in secondary, further and higher education, acquiring fifteen years of teaching experience. In HE she has convened modules on undergraduate and MSc courses and is currently Co-Course Director for Foundation Science at the University of Nottingham, convening modules on ‘Foundation Chemistry’ and ‘Maths for Foundation Science’ ( Her current interests are in the effectiveness of student response systems (, the impact of flipped learning on attainment (, and student engagement with feedback.

Caroline M Anderson, University of Nottingham

Caroline Anderson completed her PGCE in 1998 and began a fifteen-year teaching career in secondary schools. In 2013, she joined the University of Nottingham and is currently Co-Course Director for Foundation Science, convening modules on ‘Foundation Biological Sciences’ and ‘Studying Science at University’ ( She began a Professional Doctorate in Education on a part-time basis in October 2014 and is currently writing her thesis. Her research interests include students’ beliefs about knowing, multiple source comprehension, argumentation, reflective practice, and dialogic teaching.