Next Step York provides talented Year 12 students with the opportunity to participate in a programme of activity that will support their application to a research intensive university like the University of York.

Given the ongoing COVID-19 situation, this programme is now available online. To find out more and take part, please contact

We welcome students from all backgrounds to apply. We're particularly keen to recruit students from groups that are currently under represented in higher education. We recruit participants from targeted schools and colleges, including those who have taken part in our Shine project in Years 7 to 11.

Students on the Next Step York programme will take part in a series of activities throughout Year 12 and 13. The activities have been carefully developed to help participants reach their full academic potential.

What's involved?

A variety of activities are included in the programme including:

Taking place at the University of York campus, the Next Step York Campus Conference acts as the perfect introduction to the Next Step York programme.

During the day, students will:

  • familiarise themselves with the University of York and its campus
  • gain a good understanding of how the E-mentoring programme works
  • attend an academic session led by a university academic
  • find out more information about the Next Step York programme
  • meet current undergraduate students and other Next Step York participants from around the country. 

E-mentoring gives students the opportunity to talk to a trained University of York student, who will answer questions and insight into university, student life, study skills and much more.

E-mentors will help students:

  • build their confidence
  • develop valuable skills
  • learn about future education and employment options

Students will also be introduced to our employability module YorSkills, an online tool to support students preparing to apply for university courses and jobs.

Next Step York participants attend a five-day residential at the University of York campus.

During the residential, students:

  • stay in university accommodation
  • attend workshops (academic, student life, personal development and skills)
  • meet current students
  • take part in a series of social and cultural activities.

The residential provides a great opportunity to find out more about higher education, student life and applying to university. There are also many opportunities to experience what it's like to be a University of York student and prepare for next steps.

Students who complete all Year 12 components of Next Step York are eligible to apply to be considered for an alternative offer (up to two grades below the typical offer, or up to three grades for students who are also eligible for contextual offers) to study any course at the University of York.

In order to benefit from an alternative offer, students must:

  • select York as their firm or insurance choice
  • complete an academic assignment - a 1,500-word essay set by the department that the student has applied to study in.

Students will be matched to a Postgraduate Tutor who will offer academic support and guidance, such as research, essay structure, or referencing. During a two-day summer school, students will:

  • meet their Postgraduate Tutor
  • attend academic workshops
  • have access to our study resources and facilities
  • enjoy a fun evening of activities in the city of York.

The Academic Assignment is a great opportunity to gain first-hand experience of what it would be like to study at university and to develop academic skills.

What do our participants think?

"The process of applying to university no longer seems as daunting as I previously thought."

"I was anxious about meeting new people but Next Step York has made me feel better about it. It also gave me the motivation to do well in my A-levels and to revise."

"Next Step York has given me the confidence to apply to a top university."

“It made me realise that people from all backgrounds can come to university and it’s not just students from well-off backgrounds… it just made me realise that university was an option that I could do.”

Next Step York graduate

“Before coming on the residential, I’d say I was definitely nervous – it was my first university experience. I’d already started coming out of my shell a bit in sixth form, but this was a really good next step for me and definitely prepared me more for going to university”

Next Step York graduate

Watch on YouTube

Rich, Economics and Finance graduate and Next Step York graduate

Rich was one of our fantastic first Next Step York students, he came to study at York and graduated in 2017.

He is now training to be an accountant.

How to apply

Applications for 2020 are now closed. We will be recruiting Year 12 students for a new cohort in Autumn 2020.

View our widening participation Access and Outreach Privacy Notice (PDF , 72kb) for students participating in one of our programmes.


To take part in Next Step York you must:

  • Have achieved at least 8 A*-C grades or 9-4 grades at GCSE (or equivalent, eg. BTEC certificate) including English Language and Mathematics. This must include a minimum of 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) at A*-B grades or 9-6 grades
  • Be a Home/EU registered student, or a student seeking asylum or granted refugee status in the UK

You must then meet TWO OR MORE of the following criteria:

  • Live in a neighbourhood which has a low progression rate to Higher Education. This is defined by home postcode. Home postcodes are assessed using POLAR4 and IMD data and can be checked using our postcode checker
  • Come from a home where neither parent attended university in the UK or abroad, where a parent/guardian is currently studying their first degree or attended university as a mature student (started university after turning 21)
  • Be in receipt of, or entitled to, discretionary payments (eg 16-19 bursary, Pupil Premium)
  • Received, or were entitled to receive, free school meals at secondary school
  • Are from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background
  • Are from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities
  • Are from a military/service family
  • Have a disability/long term health condition
  • Are a recognised young carer

OR meet the following criteria:

  • Have lived, or are living, in local authority care

Applications from students who do not meet the criteria but have faced challenges - social, personal or educational - which may have affected performance in education are considered on an individual basis. This requires a supporting statement to be provided.

The Next Step York team are keen to support as many students as possible who are seeking asylum or granted refugee status in the UK and strongly encourage applications from these students. However due to funding and provision available, these places may be limited. This may vary on a yearly basis.

The Next Step York team aims to work with as many students as possible. However, if more applications are received than there are places available, priority goes to students who meet the largest number of criteria.

If you would like any further information please email

Postcode checker

The postcode checker is used in order to assess whether you meet the Next Step York criteria ‘lives in a neighbourhood with low participation to higher education.’

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