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Fitz's history

Fitzwilliam College has a long-standing commitment to promoting access to higher education, going back to its foundation in 1869 as a non-collegiate institution known as Fitzwilliam Hall. The college was created to allow students to study at the University of Cambridge without paying the expensive fees required to be a member of a college, making education accessible to all.

Over time, grants made it more affordable to study at the University of Cambridge, and non-collegiate institutions were no longer needed. In 1966, we became an official college of the University and took the name ‘Fitzwilliam College’ but have remained proud of our heritage, prioritizing academic ability over wealth.

Outreach work today

Fitzwilliam College's dedication to keeping the University accessible to students of all backgrounds has remained unchanged. We organize events specifically for students attending state schools, providing resources and information to schools and colleges that do not have a history of sending students to Cambridge but which aspire to do so in the future.

We are committed to having a full-time Schools Liaison Officer (SLO), who strives to providing up-to-date, accurate information about Cambridge to break down misconceptions about university life. They offer advice to students on the college's admissions process, including personal statements and interviews, and encourage students to progress to Higher Education.

The college also runs a range of outreach activities, including summer schools, taster days, and mentoring schemes, aimed at students from underrepresented backgrounds. We have partnerships with schools and colleges across the UK and works closely with a range of organizations to promote access to higher education more broadly.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our outreach programs, please contact the SLO at

Young doctor treats a patient

Peer mentoring

Female scientist at a computer in a lab

Subject Taster Days

Cover image of the guide for teachers

Open Days

Pupils sitting in a classroom reading

Summer Schools

What is widening participation?

Cambridge is one of the very best universities in the world and academic excellence is core to our activities. But we know that the opportunity for an outstanding education is not distributed fairly in our society. It is our responsibility to change this.

At Cambridge, and at Fitz, we work with underrepresented students and their teachers and schools, to break down barriers and create opportunities to access and succeed in higher education. 

Widening participation is not just about statements of principle and aspirations: we have concrete actions and strategies to address key objectives. All English universities wishing to charge fees above the basic level must have an Access & Participation plan that outlines how they will improve equality of opportunity for underrepresented groups to access, succeed in and progress from higher education. The plan must be approved by the Office for Students (OfS) in accordance with the Higher Education and Research Act 2017.

These plans must include: the provider’s ambition for change and how it plans to achieve that change, details of current access targets and other access, success, and progression measures, plus investment plans and financial support available to students to deliver the plan.

The Access & Participation Plan for the University of Cambridge can be downloaded here.

Useful resources to learn more

Guidelines for widening participation are set by the OFS and are available here.

Cambridge is undertaking a range of initiatives to fulfil our strategic goals in this area and the schemes currently underway are listed here.

The University reports on its work in this area, and this document is a great introduction to the range of activities. 

There are many amazing charities and not-for-profits working in this sector. At Fitz we and our students have worked with The Brilliant Club, The Sutton Trust, UpReach, and TargetOxbridge.

If your organisation would like to partner with Fitzwilliam on an event or scheme, please do get in touch with us on