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Students in the University of Birmingham's microscopy lab

EPS Futures is an innovative way of using a foundation year as a ‘social leveller’. The fully funded course is designed for students from areas where a low percentage of young people attend university and leads to the University’s highly regarded engineering and physical sciences degrees.

A recent report from the Engineering Professors’ Council, ‘Engineering Opportunity’ acknowledged the importance of foundation courses and recommended expanding the courses for those who may not have had access to appropriate A Level provision. EPS Futures is part of the University’s commitment to widening participation in higher education and is an extension of the standard foundation programme.

EPS Futures removes some of the key barriers faced by disadvantaged groups when applying to highly ranked institutions. Tuition fees are waived and funding is provided to cover living and accommodation costs. For a variety of complex reasons, some students from disadvantaged backgrounds do not study the A Levels required for entry onto an engineering degree. EPS Futures takes this into account and also accepts a broader range of qualifications and grades from students meeting the criteria.

Professor Nicola Wilkin, Director of Education, College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Birmingham said: “EPS Futures teaches the required maths and science to A Level standard. It also provides specialised support and mentoring. The programme will support the transition of students both academically and socially from school to university, and from the foundation year to later years of the engineering degree.”