The Office for Students (OfS) has today published a report showing how local collaborations between universities, schools, colleges and businesses – funded by the OfS – are breaking down barriers to higher education for school pupils.
The report outlines work achieved in the first year of the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP) across England. It showcases how local networks funded by the OfS have creatively developed opportunities for young people in specific areas where higher education participation has been identified as lower than expected given the GCSE results of the young people living there.
Chris Millward, Director for Fair Access and Participation, said:
“We know that sustained and targeted outreach is key to reducing the gaps in higher education participation between different groups of students, and that universities need to work closely with schools, colleges, charities and local agencies to achieve this. So I am very pleased to see the progress made by the OfS-funded NCOP, which enables exactly this kind of outreach in an effective and efficient way.
“In its first year of operation, NCOP is already showing signs of success. It has enabled a range of organisations who are best placed to identify and address local barriers to take a more joined-up approach. It has reached significant numbers of schools, colleges and young people and looks set to increase its reach even further in the next year. And the early signs are that NCOP activities are contributing to improved information, advice and guidance for young people at key milestones in their education.
“NCOP is a great example of the kind of outreach activity we need – evidence-based, targeted, robustly evaluated, bringing local partners together and harnessing university resources and expertise to meet the needs of schools and teachers, students and their families. The OfS will ensure that this learning drives improvements to higher education outreach in the future.”
Gareth Oliver, Careers Lead at Broad Oak Sports College, a school supported by NCOP partner Greater Manchester Higher (GM Higher), said:
“Without the valuable support of [NCOP partner] GM Higher, both in terms of experience and one-to-one support, we would not have had the opportunity to access resources and programmes to aid the aspiration of our pupils.
“Already the number of pupils wanting to aspire to higher education has increased, but more importantly, the programmes and resources have allowed our pupils to have an ‘I can do it’ attitude. Schools like Broad Oak need organisations like GM Higher to ensure we break the mould that ‘higher education is only for the affluent families’.”
The Year One report precedes an NCOP week of action (4–8 June) that will shine a spotlight on outreach activities going on across England, from motivational talks and role model sessions to live social media FAQs.