Widening Participation

Improving educational outcomes for students traditionally underrepresented in higher education 


As part of UNSW’s strategic priority of advancing social impact, the University has committed to an access rate of 25% by 2027 for commencing domestic students from underrepresented schools and low-socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds. However, we know that access without continued support is a risk to success at university and effective inclusion. 

UNSW takes a holistic, university wide approach to ensure underrepresented students can access, fully participate and succeed at university. Access, Equity & Inclusion leads the University’s primary admission strategy for widening participation and collaborate directly with faculties, divisions and students to design and implement targeted initiatives that span the student life cycle.

Student equity in focus thumbnail

Student equity in focus

Recommendations from the Australian Universities Accord

We welcome the Australian Universities Accord's recommendations on widening participation in tertiary education for historically underrepresented students and this renewed focus on student equity.

Read our summary guide to the recommendations

Widening Participation Strategy 2030 front cover

Widening Participation Strategy 2030

Our strategy sits within the broader UNSW 2025 Strategy and addresses the priority of social impact.


Read the strategy

Our approach

Through educational outreach, we deliver programs that seek to support students' interest in their own learning and focus on higher order thinking, metacognition, critical analysis and literacy - all essential factors for success at university. We also guide students to explore and develop their learning goals and participate in experiences that are interactive, experiential and explore a range of different contexts. Continued support is offered to students once they’re at university, including academic, financial and wellbeing assistance. 

We recognise that there is a greater chance of overcoming the structural barriers of educational disadvantage through collaboration. We have formed partnerships with schools, NGOs, industry partners and other universities to co-design innovative educational programs and strengthen student engagement. 

We know our programs will only be successful if they’re relevant to the students we work with, as well as to their immediate networks. We consult with school leaders, teachers, UNSW student ambassadors and academics and use a strengths-based approach to program design that ensures our work is relevant to students’ needs. We also deliver our programs through a range of methods from experiential learning both on-campus and in the classroom to blended learning with a digital experience.   

Key to the success of our programs is the involvement of University Ambassadors, most of whom have entered UNSW through the Gateway Admission Pathway. University Ambassadors co-deliver our programs and serve as powerful role models who demonstrate the opportunities a university education can bring. They also contribute to an enhanced sense of belonging across the whole student life cycle.   

We reach beyond UNSW to draw on our links with industry and workplaces. These partners play an important role in demonstrating where a university education can lead and the expanded career opportunities. Our partners offer students access to their workplaces and provide role models and mentors who help them develop the skills they need to succeed in the workforce of the 21st Century.  

Our programs

The Gateway Admission Pathway and Program in UNSW's primary access strategy for widening participation. By combining educational outreach with an admission pathway, Gateway aims to maximise students' academic success and ensures equitable access to UNSW.

A partnership with the University of Technology Sydney, Macquarie University and high schools across greater western Sydney to build student and school capacity for accessing tertiary education and improving post-school learning opportunities.