Levelling Up: STEM


Supporting A-level students

Levelling Up: STEM nurtures A-level students from underserved groups in Maths, Physics & Chemistry who may be planning to study a STEM subject at university. Combining high quality academic material, with an integrated pastoral programme, it is delivered in small tutor groups by STEM undergraduates from a local university.

Levelling Up: STEM provides continuous support that begins midway through Year 12 and runs until the A-level examinations in Year 13. The pilot programme ran from Spring 2021 to early Summer 2022 in Maths, Physics & Chemistry at Birmingham, Durham, Leicester & Oxford. The current cohort (2023/24) has 750 sixth-formers on the programme at a total of 21 universities and this is on track to double over the next two years.

An ambitious access programme

The participating university departments are supported, and guided, by their Hub. The Hub is led by a learned society or a deputising university. In Maths, three learned societies (LMS, IMA, EMS) play a dominant role. For Science, the lead responsibility is taken by a university - Birmingham/IOP (Physics) and Durham/RSC (Chemistry).

For all UK universities

Students from underserved groups can be hard to reach. Accordingly, our central principle is that participating universities should intervene close to home and make their own determination of the precise underrepresentation focus. The programme is open to all UK universities. Due to its central role in STEM, there is a special focus on Maths.

For all underserved groups.

In addition to the core programme, the first cohort of Levelling Up: Maths for Black Heritage Students started at five universities in England in 2023. read more

Learned Societies

The learned societies we are involved with at the moment are:

  • London Mathematical Society (LMS)
  • Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA)
  • Edinburgh Mathematical Society (EMS)
  • The Chartered Institute for IT (BCS)
  • Institute of Physics (IOP)
  • Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)

We are looking for more support in engineering .. please see our blog post or contact us at .


The universities we are involved with at the moment are:

  • Aberdeen 3
  • Aberystwyth
  • Bath
  • Birmingham 1
  • Cardiff
  • Coventry
  • Durham 1
  • Edinburgh 3
  • Exeter
  • Glasgow 3
  • Heriot-Watt 3
  • Hertfordshire
  • Imperial
  • Kent
  • Loughborough
  • Manchester 2
  • Manchester Met 2
  • Newcastle
  • Nottingham
  • QMUL
  • Salford 2
  • Sheffield
  • Sheffield Hallam
  • Southampton
  • Stirling 3
  • Strathclyde 3
  • Swansea
  • UEA
  • Warwick

1 Hub universities
2 Greater Manchester network
3 Scottish network


For all Levelling Up: Maths programmes, students are studying A-level Maths and have indicated an interest in studying on a STEM degree. The primary goal is to help these students improve their maths grade in the A-level examination from C to B, B to A, A to A*. Maths is the core entry requirement for STEM subjects at higher tariff universities (for example, computer science).

More broadly, through near-peer undergraduate tutoring and guest speakers, the programme seeks to inspire students and make them feel welcome, valued and included. Putting it another way, we aim to help make sure they are ready to apply for a place at university, and then to succeed once they are there.


Our programme is led, and co-ordinated, by a collaboration between the London Mathematical Society (LMS), the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA), the Chartered Institute for IT (BCS), the Institute of Physics (IOP), with support from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). These hubs ensure the quality of all academic material.

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In our model, the delivery of the programme is through a network of universities spread geographically across the UK. Crucially, in this context, each participating university will focus on students from its region. This will amplify the effect of their existing local widening participation activities. A recent development is collaboration between universities. For example, for Levelling Up: Maths, Manchester, Manchester Met (MMU) & Salford are currently working together as effectively a single university. They approach local schools as a single entity - and also train all the undergraduate tutors together. Manchester is leading this initiative and, in doing so, they are considerably easing the burden of offering the programme for both MMU & Salford. Together, they are supporting a cohort of 100 students. The stated aim of the three universities is to work with all 50 schools in Greater Manchester that have a sixth form.

Finally, although it is our clear intention to run a national programme we also recognise the importance of leveraging existing local partnerships. For example, in selecting students for all flavours of Levelling Up: Maths, our universities will often collaborate with the local branches of the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE), the Advanced Maths Support Programme (AMSP) and the Office for Students UniConnect.

Evidence based

Pilot Evaluation Timeline - Courtesy Durham University
Pilot Evaluation Timeline - Courtesy Durham University

Our approach is evidence based. In our pilot programme we sought to understand the successes and challenges faced by students from different backgrounds. We evaluated data nationally by subject, for multiple subject programmes within a single university and for the Levelling Up: STEM programme as a whole. The pilot programme ran from Spring 2021 to early Summer 2022 in Maths, Physics & Chemistry at Birmingham, Durham, Leicester & Oxford. and, for more details, see the final evaluation conducted by School of Education at Durham: https://eise.webspace.durham.ac.uk/levelling-up-evaluation/

Contact us

Levelling Up: STEM is organised and coordinated by a collaboration between the London Mathematical Society (LMS), the Institute of Physics (IOP) and Durham University. They are responsible for the programmes in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry respectively.

For more information, please contact any one of the following:

  • Levelling Up: Maths (LMS, IMA) -
  • Levelling Up: Maths for Black heritage students (LMS, IMA) -
  • Levelling Up: Maths for Computer Science (BCS)
  • Levelling Up: Physics (Birmingham) -
  • Levelling Up: Chemistry (Durham) -
  • Reaching Higher (Scotland) (Glasgow)
  • Levelling Up: Maths for Engineering (NEW!) -