Since January 2017 over 765,000 young people have engaged in higher education outreach through the Uni Connect programme and in 2019-20 partnerships were working with 2,480 schools and colleges.
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.
The programme was set up in 2017 to support the government’s social mobility goals to rapidly increase the number of young people from underrepresented groups going into higher education.
Partnerships focus 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.
The success of the past four years is reflected in learner and teacher testimonials, case studies and evaluation findings which has led the programme to being awarded funding in principle for another 4 years (although the level of funding is subject to annual consultation and confirmation).
Uni Connect phases
The first four years of the programme (known as phase one and phase two), started in January 2017 and ran until July 2021. We are now in the first year of phase three, 1 August 2021 to 31 July 2022.
Phase one Jan 2017 – July 2019
National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP)
Phase two Aug 2019 – July 2021
The Uni Connect Programme
Phase three Aug 2021 – July 2025*
The Uni Connect Programme
* Funding for the programme is subject to confirmation and consultation on an annual basis.
For 2021-22, the Uni Connect programme is funded at £40 million, which is a reduction of £20 million from the previous two phases that were funded at £60 million per annum.
The aims of phase three, which are informed by the previous two phases, are 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.
New for phase three
Phase three has some new aspects:
- an increased focus on further education colleges. Leading to an expected increase in:
- the involvement of further education colleges in partnership governance
- the proportion of Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) and outreach delivered in further education colleges
- a strengthening of IAG and outreach relating to the routes through higher education that are particularly enabled by further education colleges
- an increased focus on adult learners
- eligibility for targeted outreach to include all learners aged 19 or above studying at a further education college
- stronger expectations for collaborative working
- partnerships sharing approaches, resources and good practice.