Uni Connect programme reaches one million young people

The next phase of the Uni Connect programme will focus on supporting universities and colleges to partner with schools to raise the academic attainment of young people, the OfS has announced.

Amy Rutter, David Stapleton, Rachael Holland, Sanna Saidy, Beth Eva-Hill.

Established by the Office for Students (OfS) in 2017, Uni Connect aims to increase the number of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in England who go into higher education. Local partnerships help link universities and colleges with schools to offer young people activities, advice and information on the benefits and realities of going to university. Since its launch, it has engaged with over one million young people, equipping them with the information they need to make informed choices about their future education and helping minimise any barriers to achieving their potential.

The programme will strengthen its focus on raising the academic attainment levels of pupils in years 7 to 11 (ages 12-16). By supporting partnerships between universities and colleges with schools and local organisations, Uni Connect will develop and expand its work to encompass a wide range of high-quality activities to increase students’ attainment and support their progression into higher education.

John Blake, Director for Fair Access and Participation at the OfS, leads on equality of opportunity in higher education. He said: “It is fantastic to see that over one million young people have engaged with Uni Connect so far and become more informed about educational opportunities and their futures. The earlier that educational support and guidance starts the better, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, which is why it’s important for Uni Connect to focus on raising attainment for those aged 16 and under. Over half of all schools and colleges in England have worked with the programme. We encourage all school leaders to engage with their local Uni Connect partnership to develop collaborative approaches to help drive student attainment up.”

Throughout each phase of Uni Connect there is an ongoing evaluation of best practice. This programme has already added substantially to the evidence base around ‘what works’ in higher education outreach and continues to help strengthen future evaluative practice.

From 2017 to 2021 the Humber Outreach Programme (HOP), the Humber’s UniConnect, worked with 51 Schools and Sixth Form Colleges and six FE Colleges. 44,693 students have been involved with HOP since 2017, with HOP delivering 4,064 activities. 92% of students who applied to HE who took part in their activities were offered a place. HOP is proud to contribute towards this initiative to benefit future generations of students from a range of diverse backgrounds.

You can find our more about HOP and access free careers advice at https://hop-humber.co.uk