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Making economics more accessible

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Making economics more accessible

It has been widely reported in recent years that the discipline of economics suffers from a lack of diversity with women, state school and ethnic minority students still under-represented among economics undergraduates.

We pledged our support for the national campaign #Discover Economics launched in October 2019 to increase diversity in economics and to promote it to a wider audience, particularly to prospective students from social mobility backgrounds who are under-represented on our undergraduate programmes. A report co-authored by one of our academic colleagues, Dr Arun Advani in 2020[i], highlighted further the need for action to increase levels of diversity of academic economists in the UK, an issue we have been fully committed to addressing. Our Widening Participation and Outreach Strategy outlines details of our aims and objectives in this area.

We take the opportunity now to report on several initiatives we have taken in the last three years to highlight economics as a subject that doesn’t deal only with money and finance, but has a wide variety of applications and offers links to other disciplines like psychology, health and environment.

Since October 2019, in addition to supporting University-led interventions, the Department’s Widening Participation and Outreach Team has organised nine of our own events to promote economics widely. We actively welcome and encourage applications from candidates who meet our contextual eligibility criteria and in 2021 we offered contextualised offers to 134 offer holders, admitting the highest percentage of undergraduate students from social mobility backgrounds ever (15% of Home students).

Organising events for school pupils and teachers

Here are some highlights from our recent successful initiatives:

  • Our Introduction to Economics events organised in 2021 and 2022 reached over a thousand prospective students whereas Discover Economics and Pathways to Economics had a further reach of over 200 prospective students.
  • In line with our strategy to attract more female students to study economics, we organised special sessions with advice and guidance to prospective students from top economists, our alumni and staff and students of the Department which benefited over 250 prospective students: International Women's Day: Coffee with Economists and a special session for female offer holders – Women in Economics.
  • Our data shows that 136 parents attended our events, indicating that they are also an important group we need to connect to in our mission to make economics more accessible to diverse groups of students.
  • To deepen our links with teachers we have set up a Teachers Group to collaborate with Maths and Economics teachers from secondary schools to take this partnership further with plans to organise new events for school students for 2022/23.

Some of the strongest support for our campaign to increase access to economics has been from current and former students of the Department who spoke at events we organised.

Prabhjot Parmar (Investment Banking Analyst, Credit Suisse) Warwick Economics graduate 2021 from a social mobility background who spoke at Pathways to Economics event in November 2021 described her experience of studying economics as mathematically demanding but she also added that it should not put anybody off as things become easier as you progress in your studies and "start to see all of the different areas of economics coming together. You will then see that it’s quite a beautiful fusion of the two and the maths is nothing to be scared of – it’s something that can complement the theory quite well and then application.”

Our participation in University events

In 2021/22 we also contributed to several initiatives and events organised by the University’s Widening and Participation Team:

  • Discovery Day
  • Pathways to Banking and Finance
  • Realising Opportunities
  • Sutton Trust Summer School
  • Warwick Scholars

Feedback from participants of the events shows a positive effect on improving the perception and understanding of economics:

"I enjoyed learning more about economics and getting a greater understanding of this field."
Discovery Day: Banking and Finance participant
"I liked the diverse Panel - everyone with amazing experience to share. One from banking sector other from civil service, professor, advisor, students, amazing! I loved how every speaker openly shared their definition of economics, area of interest, and what skills are most essential to pursue a career in economics."
International Women's Day: Coffee with Economists participant

Transition Support Programme 2022

We are currently working on a new initiative to provide an induction and support programme for first-year students from social mobility backgrounds who will be joining us in September 2022. The programme will include additional events for this group of students to help them with the transition to university life and study.

"We are pleased to see positive outcomes of our efforts reflected in the increased numbers of WP students admitted to our programmes. We are planning new initiatives that would benefit our WP students, like our Advanced Transition Support Programme to ensure a smooth transition to university. I’d like to thank my colleagues within the WP and Outreach Team, Charlotte, Maxine and Bozena, and all members of staff who are continuously supporting our events."
Dr Lory Barile, Associate Professor, Widening Participation Co-ordinator in the Department of Economics and Discover Economics Champion

Interested in Studying Economics?

Join our Mailing Lists

If you’d like to receive invitations to a variety of outreach events run by the Department of Economics, please join our mailing list. The events are free to attend but prior registration is required. If you are a teacher interested in supporting our initiatives and promoting economics to your students, please ensure to opt in to join our Teacher's Working Group.

Join our Mailing Lists