Scheme of the semester: Manchester Access Programme

Manchester Access Programme applications (or MAPlications as we like to call them!) are now open. But what does that mean for you? Well, if you’re in Year 12 and you live or study in Greater Manchester then you could be eligible to apply for the University’s flagship access scheme (check out the Students page if you’re not sure what an access scheme is yet). MAP supports hundreds of students a year in their journey to find out more about higher education and university life. It gives you the opportunity to take part in tons of workshops and activities designed to build on the skills you already have, and should leave you feeling more confident about applying to and studying at university. As if that wasn’t enough, if you successfully complete the programme you could receive a two grade reduction in the entry requirements to any course at The University of Manchester should you want to come here to study (and we would *really* love you to join us).

But enough about all of the benefits – you can find the full list of those over on the MAP page.

We wanted to use this blog post to tell you a little bit more about what MAP is, what students really think of the programme, as well as giving you some tips and tricks on mastering the MAPlication form.

What is MAP?

The Manchester Access Programme is a skills-based programme designed to prepare Year 12s for university. It first started in 2005, but has grown and developed a lot over the last fifteen years. Last year the team received over 1000 applications for the programme, with about 640 students eventually being accepted onto MAP. Around 530 students completed MAP in 2020, and almost 240 students secured a place at UoM – the largest number so far!

MAP is designed to support you in your application to university. You complete a portfolio of work, and have the opportunity to take part in compulsory and optional events that include skills workshops, masterclasses, and an academic assignment to prepare you for the different types of teaching and learning at university. MAP 2020 was delivered virtually because of Covid-19, and the team worked really hard to ensure all of the activities remained engaging and supportive for participants. It will be delivered virtually again this year, and we’re expecting it to be bigger and better than ever.

What do students really think of MAP?

This year was a really challenging one for students all over the country. With schools, colleges, and universities all closed because of Covid-19, we knew that it was more important than ever that MAP carried on in some way to give students a) something to do and b) some peace of mind that if they did complete the programme they could receive that lower offer as well as the MAP scholarship. And the students really appreciated it! You don’t just have to take our word for it though – we thought we’d let them do the talking below.

MAP, as a whole, has prepared me well for University life, choices, and work. The academic assignment taught me how to reference, structure an essay, and how to effectively evaluate my thoughts and opinions. A truly invaluable experience.

[My favourite part of MAP was] being able to talk to students freely about their experiences, researching and developing my own paper in a topic of my choice. The professional advice and guidance provided throughout the process helped me stay motivated and dedicated to my chosen subject choice.

MAP exceeded my expectations as the support was amazing during lockdown and we weren’t just given work to complete in silence at home. It was interactive with zoom sessions and quizzes to test our knowledge. I felt encouraged to achieve my full potential during this difficult period. There was a virtual sense of community which I didn’t expect to be achieved online.

MAP was extremely useful and provided me with a variety of useful material and resources to use, it has also equipped me with the skills that would be needed in higher education/university.

The Manchester Access Programme was very useful and has helped me to understand the different aspects of university life. The staff and mentors were approachable and gave valuable advice about both the academic assignment and getting into university. I am very thankful to have been given this opportunity.

Applications for MAP 2021 – tips and tricks

Applications for the Manchester Access Programme have just opened and will close at 11.59pm on Sunday 13th December, so you still have plenty of time to send off your online form. It’s quite a long application, and contains a lot of important information so it’s really important that you take your time and don’t leave it until the last minute. Below Sophie, one of the MAP Coordinators, lists her top tips for acing the application.

  1. You can’t save your place in the application form – it has to be completed in one sitting. This means that you might want to take screenshots of the questions and your answers as you go through, or write these out on a word document first so you know where you got up to.
  2. The application for MAP isn’t a personal statement, so there’s no need for you to try and persuade us why you should be offered a place. The form is quite lengthy and we do need a lot of information from you, but this is factual and not a personal piece.
  3. Don’t leave it until the last minute! This one has already been mentioned, but it does take a while to find all of the information we ask for so it’s not something that can be crammed into a stressful Sunday night.
  4. Make sure you read all of the sections on the website before you apply. There are a lot of different criteria you have to meet, and these criteria differ for the Medicine and Dentistry strands too, so it’s really important that you take your time to read through all of the information before you begin.
  5. If you realise you have submitted something in error, or not included a GCSE for example, you can go back and submit another application up until the deadline – we will take your latest submission as your final application.
  6. The Medicine and Dentistry strands of MAP are more competitive, so sometimes we have to prioritise students by the priority criteria listed on the website. You can view those criteria here.
  7. You can only apply to one strand and you can’t switch at any time, so consider your options and think really carefully about the pathway that will be best suited to you and your aspirations.
  8. Make sure you have your GCSE certificates with you when you apply. This will make it easy for you to double check that all of the information you enter is correct and up to date.

Hopefully that’s given you a better overview of the Manchester Access Programme, students’ thoughts on the scheme, and an idea of what to remember when sending off your application. When you feel ready, you can apply here. Good luck, and we hope to see you on the programme soon!