Changing Mindsets will work with students and teaching staff to help overturn sometimes deeply-held beliefs that educational abilities are fixed and replace those beliefs with an understanding that the ability to learn grows through effort and being challenged.
Led by academics at the University of Portsmouth, the project partners are University of the Arts, London, Canterbury Christ Church University, University of Brighton, and University of Winchester.
The main aim of the project - which has been awarded £500,000 by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) - is to try and close the attainment gap in black and minority ethnic groups and those from working class backgrounds.
The project launches in September with experts at all five universities hosting workshops for students and staff, which will focus on changing mindsets, reducing bias and breaking habits. Over 5,200 university students and 800 university staff will be taking part.
Nicola Barden, Director of Student Services at the University of Winchester, said: "The students most likely to benefit from Changing Mindsets are from groups which are less likely to apply to university and, if they do, are more likely to underperform academically or to drop out of their course altogether, despite entering with excellent qualifications."
"Driven by our values, which include social justice and inclusivity, we seek to ensure that everyone who can benefit from a Winchester education has the opportunity to do so, regardless of their background. We aim to provide tailored support to ensure we meet individual needs to help students succeed and our involvement in Changing Mindsets is one way we will achieve this.
"We hope that the project will not only boost academic performance and attainment but also employability, as well as widening access to higher education among under represented groups."
The first results of the two-year study are expected in June 2018, and will include data on individuals' perceptions and any changes they have made or noticed, alongside the number of disadvantaged students who complete their course and their average grades compared to similar groups' results in the same and previous years.