During 2018-19 over 180,000 young people and 1,613 schools and colleges took part in higher education outreach through the Uni Connect programme.
Uni Connect was formerly known as the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP).
What is Uni Connect?
Uni Connect brings together 29 partnerships of universities, colleges and other local partners to offer activities, advice and information on the benefits and realities of going to university or college.
Phase one of the programme started in January 2017 and ran until July 2019.
It aimed to support the government’s social mobility goals by rapidly increasing the number of young people from underrepresented groups who go into higher education.
Partnerships focused their work on local areas where higher education participation is lower than might be expected given the GCSE results of the young people who live there.
Phase two started on 1 August 2019 and is due to finish in July 2021.
Building on phase one, it supports two main strands of activity:
- targeted higher education outreach within the local areas where we can have the most impact (these are the same areas targeted under phase one)
- outreach hubs within the 29 local partnerships with cross-England coverage to help schools and colleges access the higher education outreach they need and provide a platform for wider collaboration.
Phase two of the Uni Connect programme aims to:
- reduce the gap in higher education participation between the most and least represented groups
- support young people to make well-informed decisions about their future education
- support effective and impactful local collaboration by higher education providers working together with schools, colleges, employers and other partners
- contribute to a stronger evidence base around ‘what works’ in higher education outreach and strengthen evaluation practice in the sector.
The programme is intended to complement and add value to the work that higher education providers undertake through their access and participation plans, in particular work that is best delivered in collaboration.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) update for partnerships
As a result of the impact of coronavirus and school closures, we have issued further advice to Uni Connect partnerships, including revisions to the reporting and monitoring requirements normally applied to the programme and project funding.
Partnerships are advised to contact their OfS account manager or email [email protected] with any queries about these changes.
A new approach to Uni Connect
Phase three of the Uni Connect programme will start in August 2021 and will, in principle, run through to the end of July 2025. Funding for the programme is subject to confirmation and consultation on an annual basis.
Phase three of Uni Connect aims to:
- Contribute to reducing the gap in higher education participation between the most and least represented groups.
- Equip young and adult learners from underrepresented groups to make an informed choice about their options in relation to the full range of routes into and through higher education and to minimise the barriers they may face when choosing the option that will unlock their potential.
- Support a strategic local infrastructure of universities, colleges and other partners that can cut through competitive barriers, offer an efficient and low-burden route for schools and colleges to engage, and address outreach ‘cold spots’ for underrepresented groups.
- Contribute to a stronger evidence base around ‘what works’ in higher education outreach and strengthen evaluation practice across the sector.
Read the full response to the Uni Connect consultation and future approach and priorities for phase three.