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UCLan awarded major HEFCE funding

08 January 2015

Chris Theobald

Nearly £0. 5 million to encourage local youngsters into higher education

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and the University of Cumbria have received over £480,000 to lead and further develop collaborative outreach networks to encourage more young people across Lancashire and Cumbria into higher education.

Covering a two-year period UCLan and the University of Cumbria will receive £240,000 each.

The national scheme is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and aims to deliver a co-ordinated approach to provide information for higher education providers to work with schools and colleges, to help people access higher education. Local and regional higher education providers including universities and further education colleges will come together to form the networks, ensuring comprehensive coverage across England.

There will be two networks in the North West region. One based in Lancashire which UCLan will lead and one in Cumbria, that the University of Cumbria will lead. Both networks will also be supported by Lancaster University and Edge Hill University.

Thirty-five local networks will cover the whole of England. Each network will appoint a single point of contact to help teachers and advisers find out about higher education outreach activity in their area and to provide general advice about progression into higher education. Three more networks will offer advice and support to specific groups of students at national level, including older learners wishing to continue or return to study and care leavers.

The local networks will host web-sites with information about outreach activity, and signpost other information to support schools and colleges as they prepare their students for higher education.

UCLan’s Dr Lynne Livesey, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic Development), said: “Considerable progress has been made in widening access and achieving student success in recent years. But there is still a long way to go. Government figures suggest that a young person’s chance of going to university still depends heavily on where they live, their background and whether they are male or female.

Considerable progress has been made in widening access and achieving student success in recent years. But there is still a long way to go.

“At UCLan we already put aside a substantial amount of fee income to support outreach work which is an expensive and long-term commitment. This new Government funding will provide a significant boost in our continued efforts to work together with other universities, colleges and schools to attract talented young people from a diverse range of backgrounds into higher education.”

Ian Sinker, Director of Partnerships and Development at the University of Cumbria added: “Through this formal partnership the University of Cumbria and its partners will be in a strong position to offer young people in Cumbria and Lancashire access to information about progressing into higher education. This agreement formalises and expands on existing work and will go some way to ensure that schools across both counties will have equal access to information about a wide range of opportunities such as summer schools, open days and other activities to get young people excited about higher education irrespective of location or background.”

Partners supporting one or both of the Lancashire and Cumbria networks include: Accrington & Rossendale College; Blackburn College; Blackpool & Fylde College; Burnley College; Carlisle College; Furness College; Kendal College; Lakes College; Lancaster & Morecambe College; Myerscough College; Preston’s College; and Runshaw College.

The networks are funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and managed by HEFCE [Note 2].

Greg Clark, Minister for Universities and Science, welcomed the networks, saying:

“Higher education is a transformational experience and the future of the UK economy depends on having highly-trained graduates so it is vital that young people have the right information about progressing into higher education. This programme will ensure that schools and colleges across England can help their students learn about higher education in the classroom, online and through local outreach activity.

A record number of students entered higher education in 2014, with entry rates for students from disadvantaged backgrounds increasing by over 10% to its highest ever level.

“A record number of students entered higher education in 2014, with entry rates for students from disadvantaged backgrounds increasing by over 10% to its highest ever level. However there is still more work to do to ensure all students who want to study hard can benefit, irrespective of their background."

Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said:

“We have been impressed by the higher education sector’s response to this scheme, which means that vital information about how to progress into higher education will be available to people across England. We set out to establish coverage of state-funded secondary schools and sixth form colleges and, through the support of the sector, this will be achieved.

“As well as providing co-ordinated coverage of outreach activity, we are keen that the NNCO scheme contributes innovative approaches to the interaction between higher education institutions and schools and colleges. We will be evaluating the scheme to ensure that innovation can be shared amongst networks and quickly benefit schools and colleges and the students they support.”