Hard-pressed students get £4.5m leg up to HE


9 December 2016

  • Aimhigher will intensify work to get more young people from hard-pressed communities access to higher education thanks to new funding.
  • Programme will train more than 100 students to mentor thousands of young people.
  • Currently only 4 per cent of doctors, 6 per cent of barristers and 11 per cent of journalists are from working class backgrounds.

Pupils from challenging backgrounds will receive a leg up to access university education thanks to a £4.5 million fund secured by Aimhigher West Midlands.

The programme will give disadvantaged young people the chance to attend university masterclasses, summer schools and taster days, and support to pupils from 25 wards across Birmingham, Solihull, Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and Sandwell.

The cash was secured from Higher Education Funding Council England’s (HEFCE) National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP), which will train more than 100 undergraduates and graduate ambassadors to work as mentors and role models for up to 5,000 young people in schools and colleges across the region.

Mike Thompson, Aimhigher West Midlands Manager, said: “By working together our partners will make a real difference to the lives of disadvantaged young people from families with no experience of higher education or the professions. Currently only 4 per cent of doctors, 6 per cent of barristers and 11 per cent of journalists are from working class backgrounds.

“National evaluations have repeatedly shown that exploring higher education and being mentored by a university student can boost a young person’s motivation to succeed, improve their exam results and increase their chances of entering a rewarding, secure and professional career. This is our chance to make a difference.”

The money will mean more can be done to increase opportunity for young people where the progression to higher education is relatively low, despite relatively good GCSE results.

The initiative was established by HEFCE in response to the government’s goals to double the proportion of disadvantaged young people entering higher education (HE) by 2020, to increase by 20 percent the number of students in HE from ethnic minority groups, and to address the under-representation of young men from disadvantaged backgrounds in HE.

Professor Helen Higson, Provost and Deputy Vice Chancellor for Aston University, said: “Securing this funding is a huge achievement and we at Aston are proud to be a partner of Aimhigher West Midlands. One of our university’s key values is to enable students, whatever their background, to become critical and reflective learners who will go on to make a difference in the world. This new funding will be important in helping us, along with all the other partners, in realising our ambition of improving social mobility in hard-pressed communities across the Midlands.”

Aimhigher West Midlands is a partnership of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), schools, academies, and colleges. Together, these partners aim to ensure that young people from less advantaged backgrounds have access to high quality, exciting and challenging experiences that enhance their careers education, motivate, inspire, and provide accurate and impartial information advice and guidance about higher education. For more information, visit http://www.aimhigherwm.ac.uk/


Notes to the editor

About HEFCE’s National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP):

  • The programme will support consortia of HE providers, schools, colleges and other organisations to deliver programmes of collaborative outreach in specific local areas where HE participation is low overall and lower than expected given GCSE attainment levels.
  • The programme will run from 2016-17 to 2019-20. Funding will be provided for two years in the first instance, from January 2017 to December 2018. Funding for a further two years, to December 2020 will be subject to consortia making satisfactory progress towards meeting the Government’s goals.
  • For more information, visit http://www.hefce.ac.uk/sas/ncop/


About Aston University:

  • Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston University has been always been a force for change. For 50 years the University has been transforming lives through pioneering research, innovative teaching and graduate employability success. Aston is renowned for its opportunity enabler through broad access and inspiring academics, providing education that is applied and has real impact on all areas of society, business and industry. True to Aston’s Coat of Arms which bears the word ‘Forward’, in 2016 Aston will hold a year-long anniversary celebration to recognise its heritage and achievements, but with a focus to drive forward the next stage in the University’s exciting journey. www.aston.ac.uk/50
  • Aston's Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor Alec Cameron, is the principal academic and executive officer of the University. Alec has overall responsibility for Aston's executive management and day-to-day direction.


For more information, call Ben Kennedy, Press & PR Officer, on 0121 204 4592 or email [email protected]