Find answers to common questions about our programmes.

If you have any further questions or need to inform us about your individual circumstances, please contact us at 

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Applicant FAQs

How do I start the application process?

To apply to any of our Outreach programmes, you first need to create an account in our Aspire application system. You will need an email address and you will be asked to create a password.

Once you create an account, you will have to verify it by clicking on a link sent to your email address. You will then be able to start filling in the the application form immediately.

Please be aware that Aspire may not work properly using the Internet Explorer browser - we advise you to use Google Chrome when applying.

Step by step guide

  1. Go to the Aspire sign-in page.
  2. Create a login on Aspire to apply
    1. Click 'Create account'.
    2. Enter your details to create your account. You can use your personal or school email if you have one. If you don’t have an email address, you should create one or use a parent or guardian's email address. If you use your parent/guardian's account, they will need to verify your Aspire account for you.
  3. Verify Aspire account
    1. You’ll get an email from to the email address you used. Please check your spam/junk folder if it doesn't arrive.
    2. Click the link in the email you received to verify the account.
    3. This will send you to the sign-in page of Aspire.
    4. Sign-in with the email address and password you used to create your account.
  4. Fill in the information on your Aspire account
    1. You will need to complete your personal information, your school information and your parent or guardian details.
    2. Make sure to read and agree to the data protection policy.
    3. Make sure to press save.
    4. You’re now ready to apply to your preferred programme.
  5. Apply to your programme
    1. Click on 'Select programme'.
    2. Select the name of the programme you want to apply for.
    3. Follow the steps given onscreen to apply.

What information do I need to complete my application?

You will need to know the following:

  • Whether you are eligible for free school meals
  • Your household income
  • Whether your parents/guardians have attended university
  • Your predicted or achieved exam results (this is dependent on which year you are in). If you are in year 10 or 11, you will need to know your predicted GCSE (or equivalent) grades. If you are in year 12, you will need to know your actual GCSE (or equivalent) results and your predicted A-level/IB grades.
  • The details of the teacher who will complete your reference - their name, job role and email address
  • The details of a parent/guardian – their name, email and phone number

What do you look for in a personal statement?

We look for your passion for the subject you have applied for as well as any personal or extenuating circumstances you would like to make us aware of.

If I do not know some of the information required e.g. family income, will that affect my application?

For us to assess an application fully we like to have as much information as we can and may follow up with you if information is missing. The more criteria an applicant meets the more likely they are to gain a place, so please do try and fill in all the information required.

What should I do if I do not have my predicted grades yet?

You still need to tell us your current subjects in your application. When asked for a grade, you can just type 'NPG' instead.

What do I do if I have not chosen my GCSE/A-level subjects yet?

Please fill in the information you have. For any information that does not apply to you put 'N/A' and for any grades that you do not have, please put ‘NPG’.

What should I do if my school does not come up on the drop-down list?

All schools in England and most schools in Wales are on the list. As the list is long, please keep typing your school name until it comes up.

If you are in a school in Wales and your school does not come up or if you are in a school in Scotland or Northern Ireland, please email us at and we will add it to the list.

What should I do if my home postcode does not come up on the drop-down list?

The system can be a little slow in finding your postcode. Type the first three digits and wait approximately ten seconds before moving on to the rest. Please make sure that you use the correct format, for example, SW7 2AZ.

If your postcode still doesn't come up, please email us at

Can I start my application and finish it another time?

Yes - you can access your application through the portal to make changes up until the deadline.

You will receive automated emails every three days after you have started your application to remind you to complete your application.

Can I change my personal details on the application portal?

Yes - please log in to the Aspire portal to change these details.

If you need to change your email address, you will need to submit a change email request through the applicant enquiry form. You can find the enquiry button in the header of the application portal.

You will need to provide the following:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Home postcode
  • Old email address
  • New email address 

You will be notified once your email address has been updated and you should log in with the new email address.

Can I change the details in my application form before I submit it?

Yes, you can return to your application and change anything in it until you submit it. You will have a chance to review your whole application before you submit it.

Can I change details in my application form after I have submitted it?

Yes - please submit a request through the application enquiry form. You can find the enquiry button in the header of the application portal.

Who should complete my references?

You will need to give us the details of a teacher who is willing to complete your reference. All applications need to have a teacher reference to be considered.

Your parent or guardian will also receive a reference request. This is not compulsory but very useful in case they want to give us any further information regarding your application.

Can I apply to more than one Outreach programme?

Yes, but please be aware that if successful, you may only be offered a place on one of the programmes. For example, Pathways to Medicine and STEM Potential are two different programmes with some overlap, so please do read the information online and consider which programme suits you best before applying. 

If I have previously been accepted on an Outreach programme, am I guaranteed a place on the programme I am applying for now?

Unfortunately, no. Every year our programmes attract many applications for each space available and priority is given to young people who fulfil the greatest number of eligibility criteria.

What should I do if my parents/guardians do not speak English?

The parent/guardian reference can be filled in by other family members such as an older sibling, aunt, uncle etc. or a close family friend who knows you well.

Are the places awarded on a first-come-first-served basis? Is there a benefit of applying early?

No, all applications are fully assessed once they close and the reference deadline has passed.

However, to give us a chance to follow up with you in case of any missing information in a timely manner, please do try and submit your application as early as you can.

Can I join the programme if I am unavailable for some of it e.g. I am on a holiday?

We expect participants to attend as much of the programme as possible but understand that this is not always possible.

If you are not able to attend a scheduled event, we expect that you to inform us in advance. If you know when you apply that you will not be able to attend the majority of the programme due to clashes with other activities, please consider whether the programme is right for you.

You can speak to your teacher, family or to us if you would like some advice on whether to apply or not.

Can I withdraw my application?

Yes, there are two ways to withdraw your application.

If you have started your application but not yet submitted it, login to the Aspire portal, click on the blue cross against the application you wish to withdraw and select a reason as to why you're withdrawing.

If you have submitted your application, you need to contact us to let us know by email and we will withdraw your application for you. This will not impact any future applications you wish to make.

What should I do if I forget my username or password?

Your username will be the email address you used to sign up to the application portal. There is a 'forgotten password' option on the homepage of the portal.

If you have forgotten which email address that you used to sign up to the application portal, email with your full name, date of birth and an idea of what email address you may have used.

We will then get in touch to ask you to confirm some personal details before allowing you to change your email address.

If I do not get a place, can I pay and still come?

No. We have a limited number of spaces and these are given according to our eligibility criteria.

Will I receive proof that I attended a programme?

Yes, all those who successfully complete a programme receive a certificate. Each programme has minimum attendance requirements, and these will be outlined to you at the start of the programme.

How will I know whether you have received my application?

You will be able to see on the application portal whether your application has been submitted. You will also receive a confirmation email.

How will I know whether you have received my references?

You can keep track of your references via the application portal. The information will be displayed on your home page.

Can I apply if I go to a fee-paying school?

Our outreach programmes are designed to support young people from under-represented groups access STEM degrees at universities like Imperial.

You must attend a state (non-fee paying) school in the United Kingdom to be eligible for our programmes. 

Can I apply for the programme if I do not meet the academic criteria?

If a programme has academic criteria listed against it, then you must meet these requirements to be considered for the programme.

I only meet the academic criteria, can I apply/will I be accepted?

Our outreach programmes are designed to support young people from under-represented groups to access STEM degrees at universities like Imperial. We look for students who meet as many of the criteria as possible. If you only meet the academic criteria and none of the other criteria, the chances of gaining a place are very low.

Can I apply if one or both of my parents/guardians went to university?

Yes. We ask a question on the application form as to whether your parents/guardians went to university and which courses they completed.


Teacher FAQs

I have forgotten my login details for the Teacher Portal

You can reset your password on the login screen, and your email address will be the same one the reference request email was sent to. If you still can’t login, please email us.

My email address has changed, or I have moved schools

Your Teacher Portal account and reference requests are uniquely tied to your email address. You will need to create a new account in the Teacher Portal if you change your email address or move to another school.

Please ask the applicant to send us updated contact details if your email address has changed.

I have received a reference request, but I am not the right person to complete it, what should I do?

Please ask the applicant to send us contact details for an alternative person who is able to complete the teacher reference. The request and link are unique to your email address, so you will not be able to forward it on to someone else.

Do I have to complete the reference?

Your reference gives us valuable information to fairly consider the pupil’s application to an Outreach programme – checking details they have provided and giving information about important contextual or extenuating circumstances.

If you are not able to complete the reference, please ask the applicant to send us contact details for someone who can.

What information do I need to know to complete the reference?

You will need to know:

  • the student’s date of birth as a security verification to access the reference request
  • whether the student is eligible for free school meals and/or Pupil Premium
  • whether the student is currently or has ever been in care or a young carer
  • the student’s predicted or actual exam grades

There will also be an opportunity to give us any information on extenuating circumstances regarding the student or the school.

Can I write part of the reference and come back to it later?

No, you will need to complete the reference in one go and press submit once it is complete. Please note, your session will time out after 20 minutes of inactivity and you will have to start again.

Can I find out which of my pupils have applied to your programmes?

You can find the outcomes of applications where you have been the teacher reference contact by logging into the Teacher Portal in Aspire, and selecting ‘previous reference submissions’.

If you would like to know all pupils from your school who have applied, please email us with your school name and contact details. Please note there may be a delay in our response at busy times.

I have filled in the reference, but I am still receiving reminders - why is this?

Please log into the Teacher Portal to check if you have been named as a referee for more than one pupil at your school – you will receive a separate email for each application. Alternatively, the same pupil may have applied for more than one programme.

Any outstanding reference requests will be listed on the front page when you first log in. Please check you press ‘submit’ once you have completed the form. If none of these apply, please email us.

I have spotted a mistake on a pupil’s application form, what should I do?

You will have a chance to correct some information regarding the pupil’s application within your reference. If you are unable to correct the information, please ask the applicant to email us with any corrections.


Parent/Guardian FAQs

Do I need to fill in the reference/guardian statement?

This is a short reference from the parent/guardian of the individual applying to the programme. The statement should confirm that the individual is permitted by you, the parent/guardian, to attend the course. It can also include some information on how they might benefit from attending the programme and what relevant interests or skills they may have.

You don't have to fill it out but it would be helpful, especially if there are any specific information that you would like to make us aware of in relation to your child.

How long does it take to write the reference?

It should take from 5 to 10 minutes to complete.

What information do I need to fill in the reference for my child?

You do not need to prepare in advance to fill out the reference. 

Can I write part of the reference and come back to it later?

No - your answers won't be saved until you hit submit at the end. Please be aware that your session will time out after 20 minutes of inactivity and you will have to start again. If this causes any difficulties for you, please contact us by email to discuss.

How will my child get to and from the programme?

This depends on the programme your child is applying for. Typically, you/your child will need to make your own travel arrangements for on-campus activities, but we may be able to offer financial support for those outside of London if this is a barrier to your child participating in the programme. Please contact us if this is something you would like to discuss.

Are there any costs associated with the programme?

No - all our programmes are fully funded and free for participants to attend, but please see the question about travel costs for more information. 

Are your staff trained to be working with children?

Yes - all staff who work alongside the young people on our courses have a valid enhanced DBS check and have been vetted to ensure they are suitable to work with children.

We also have staff who have been trained in dealing with mental health issues in young people. They will be contactable before prior and during the course. If you have any concerns, please get in touch.

Will my child be safe during the programme?

The college campus and accommodation have 24/7 security staff.

A full health and safety briefing will be carried out at the start of the course and all of our activities are risk assessed. Activities that take place online will carried out on secure platforms and are fully risk assessed. 

What provision is there for children with additional needs?

All of our programmes are inclusive and we strive to meet all of our participants' needs. If your child has any additional needs, we will work closely with you to support your child.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss your child's needs.

What if my child gets ill during the programme?

Most of the staff working on our programmes, and all of the security team, are trained in first aid. If your child requires medical attention, we will contact you.

For long term programmes, such as summer schools, we will ask you and your child to complete a medical information form to help us support your child if they become ill.

Can I visit my child during on-campus events and summer school?

To maintain the safety and security of all of the young people on our programmes, we do not usually allow external visitors during on-campus events or summer schools. 

We may invite guests of programme participants on to the campus for certain events such as award ceremonies. In that instance, you will receive an invite from the programme manager.

In an emergency, please contact the staff running the programme who will be able to help you.

Does my child need to bring a packed lunch/snacks?

During most of our Outreach programmes that take place over a mealtime, food and snacks will be provided for the participants. We will let you know if this is not the case for your child's programme.

It is essential that you let us know of any allergies or dietary requirements in advance, so we can cater for this.

Does my child need to buy materials or bring anything with them?

In most cases, everything participants need to take part in our programmes will be provided for them.

For our homework clubs and similar activities (e.g. subject support), participants may be asked to bring in homework or coursework to work on during the session. We will let them know in advance if this is the case.

If your child is taking part in a residential summer school, they will need to bring their personal items (e.g. clothes and toiletries) with them. Detailed information will be sent to those taking part ahead of the programme.

For our Maker Challenge programmes, participants might wish to bring in bits and pieces from home to work on or incorporate into their projects. This is entirely up to them.

Does my child need to wear their uniform?

No. The participants can wear their uniform if they wish, especially if they’re coming to an activity or programme straight from school, but this is not required.

For certain programmes information will be sent to the participants in advance about any requirements regarding their clothing. For instance, with our activities that take place in workshops or laboratories, all participants need to wear flat comfortable shoes with completely covered toes and long hair may need to be tied back.


What are the data and photo consent forms?

If your child's application is successful, we will ask for your consent for photographs to be taken during the programme. We will also ask you to agree to us storing and using the personal data of the student, in accordance with our privacy notice.

We use these photographs and data to help support the running and planning of our programmes, to secure future funding and promote existing programmes.