LSE launches new programme for Year 12 students of Black heritage

We want all the participating students to know that LSE welcomes students of all backgrounds.
- Jess Bond, Head of Widening Participation at LSE
Thrive programme 747 x 560
Participants on the Thrive programme and their mentors at LSE

LSE recently launched Thrive, a new 10-month access programme for Year 12 students of Black heritage living in or close to London. 

UK government figures show that Black 18-year-olds are the least likely to enter top universities, with only 10.2% of Black pupils progressing to these institutions in 2020. 

LSE’s Widening Participation team work to increase the number of students underrepresented at both LSE and higher education more broadly and Thrive is one of LSE’s new flagship programmes central to this work.

As part of the hybrid programme, participants are invited on campus days to experience the LSE community and take part in taster lectures, workshops and interactive information, advice and guidance sessions.

The campus days sit alongside a full online programme centring around a sustained mentoring scheme that matches participants with a current undergraduate student who offers support and guidance throughout the duration of the programme.

After launching in January 2023, the first campus day took place last week (15 February) with a packed schedule including a taster lecture with Dr Maël Lavenaire from the International Inequalities Institute, a research skills session, an introduction talk from the LSESU African and Caribbean Society and a goal setting seminar with the Widening Participation team.

Second-year Government student Jemimah Lumbu has signed up to be a mentor. Jemimah wanted to be part of the programme so she could give pupils the guidance she felt was missing when she was younger. “I always wanted someone to be that ‘big person’ for me who could help navigate university life and point me to helpful resources. When I was younger, I didn’t have access to programmes like this or even know they existed,” she says.

Fellow mentor Cyndy Alima, who is currently in her first year in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method agrees. “When I first started university, I was taken back by how much freedom and independence we had. When I was growing up I didn’t really see opportunities like this as open or accessible. So having this programme at a university like LSE can give people hope and help break down some of the barriers they have to go through,” she adds, explaining that programmes like Thrive are needed to help break the “racial glass ceiling”.

Sixteen-year-old Malachai applied to Thrive as LSE is his first choice university where he would like to study Accounting and Finance or Economics. His favourite part of the campus day was a lecture by Dr Maël Lavenaire on social history and racial inequalities. “It was good to see that the lecturers and researchers here have a passion for their work,” he enthuses. Meeting other students on the programme was another highlight for Malachai. “It was good to meet other people from similar backgrounds with the same goals as me,” he adds.

Fellow pupils Kamilia, 17, and Tanika, 17, agree and are excited for the mentoring aspect of the programme. “I’m most looking forward to the mentoring and hearing from someone who has done it and can share their experiences,” says Kamilia.  

The Thrive programme builds on the success of LSE’s Black Achievement Conference, a long-standing event organised by LSE’s Widening Participation team since 2007, to celebrate Black excellence at LSE and across the UK.

Commenting on the new programme, Jess Bond, Head of Widening Participation at LSE said: “We are delighted to launch LSE Thrive this year. We want all the participating students to know that LSE welcomes students of all backgrounds and we continue to widen access to LSE for students from groups that are currently under-represented in higher education.

“Our programme aims to provide opportunities to support pupils to achieve through their sixth form studies and beyond, with a range of activities delivered on campus and virtually. We are really pleased to be partnering with leading mentoring charity, Brightside and hope that being mentored by a current LSE student of Black heritage will be particularly inspiring for our participants.”

If you are interested in the Thrive programme, you can find out more here.