Working in partnership with Kingston University


The Mohn Westlake Foundation is working in partnership with Kingston University to support two transformative programmes to enable more disadvantaged learners to thrive in Higher Education.

Our first year of support has already made a powerful difference for disadvantaged students.

At a glance…

  • Students who attended Head Start in 2017 were more likely to stay at university (94.4%) compared with those eligible students who did not attend (88.3%).
  • 100% of care-experienced and estranged students held current status throughout the 2017/18 academic year, compared with 83.5% of other undergraduate entrants.
  • The retention rate of KU Cares students in 17/18 was 100% compared to 83.5% of all undergraduates.

Our support has enabled Kingston University to

  • increase Head Start attendance in 2018 to 320 students, 33% more than the target number for year one.
  • to identify 202 potential standalone students in need of support (with 51 verified as of December 2018).
  •  to identify four times as many potential standalone students in need of support.

"Kingston and Head Start is definitely hands down the best decision I’ve made this summer. You’ve turned my apprehension into confidence. I’m no longer afraid of change and I’m looking forward to starting uni.” Anthonia

The Head Start Summer School is an orientation programme designed to give disadvantaged students the best start at university by helping them build confidence and familiarity with all aspects of university life, and equipping them to manage finances, juggle studies, seek support and secure part-time work. Our partnership with Kingston University will more than double the number of attendees over three years – from 240 to 600 per annum.

Kingston’s KU Cares programme offers critical support to standalone students (those estranged from their families, who have no parental or financial support or family home) by providing them with a bursary and an assigned caseworker who supports them with the challenges they face in managing their finances, mental health, accommodation, isolation and family issues.  A total of 240 standalone students will be supported over three years.

“Kingston University offered me the support I needed to succeed. It would not have come from anywhere else. No one in the system and no one in my family believed in me.”

“I’m in no doubt that the support at Kingston, in particular KU Cares (but also Mental health and Money Teams), is what kept me on course. I’m not sure I’d have made it without them.”J, Politics and international relations, L6


A Programme Designed To Give Disadvantaged Students The Best Start At University

The Mohn Westlake partnership has allowed the University to diversify and increase these events, including one-day intensive sessions for those who cannot attend a three-day residential. As a result, they are already ahead of target to more than double the number of attendees, and are now anticipating reaching this milestone in two years rather than three.

The programme is having an impact beyond Kingston; in the last year, two universities have approached Kingston for detailed guidance, feeding back that “we ran some pre-entry summer school days and had some nice success – all inspired by the work you and your team do at Kingston, so thank you!” The University will also be sharing institutional research on the impact of Head Start with the Office for Students as part of the Evaluation and Impact Exchange.

This September they will be launching Head Start Express days for students who join through Clearing (and are therefore not enrolled until after the Head Start summer events). Clearing students are disproportionately from disadvantaged and/or underrepresented groups.

“I would recommend Head Start to all the students joining Kingston University. I had a fantastic experience and met lovely staff and current students who gave an answer for every question and useful advice on having a successful time at university. It built my confidence and I met new friends inside and outside my course. Now I am ready and prepared to start my first year as I have an idea of what is expected at KU.”Luula Oman, Head Start 2018

For more information about Kingston University's projects, please visit their website: 
Head Start:
KU Cares:

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