Southern Universities Network
The Southern Universities Network (SUN) is a collaborative partnership comprising HE providers in Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight. The SUN provides outreach activities for schools and colleges as part of Uni Connect – an Office for Students (OfS)-funded project.
The SUN has been tasked with increasing HE participation in over 70 wards, working with 104 schools and all further education (FE) colleges in the region. As directed in OfS guidance, work will be focused on young people in Years 9 – 13 and their ‘key influencers’.
The Uni Connect Programme was launched in January 2020 – a national initiative helping teachers and careers advisers to encourage young people to take advantage of the opportunities in Higher Education.
Aims of the Uni Connect Programme:
Equality of opportunity
Uni Connect works with schools and colleges in areas of England where learners are less likely to progress to higher education. The programme offers impartial and high-quality activities and information, advice and guidance about the different routes into and through further and higher education. Uni Connect supports learners to make the best personal decisions about their future, whether that’s an apprenticeship, further study at university or college or reskilling for a new career. This work is even more important now as these students have been disproportionately affected by the COVID 19 pandemic.
Effective and long-term higher education outreach
Evaluation of the programme has generated evidence of the effectiveness of the sustained and progressive approach to delivering outreach, which has proven to have a positive impact on the most disadvantaged pupils, including on their confidence in making decisions about their course of study.
Supporting local areas
Uni Connect funding is focused on the areas of England with the lowest levels of educational success and progression to higher education. The partnerships are made up of local universities, colleges and organisations based in these particular areas across England, with a coherent and collaborative approach to working with Uni Connect learners. This collaboration supports the focus on local skills needs and the Government priority of levelling-up across the country.
Increasing efficiency for schools and colleges
A collective approach to working with local schools and colleges opens up greater opportunities for their learners to understand the different routes into and through higher education, as well as increasing efficiency for school and college staff to access provision for their learners. Additionally, this helps them meet their commitments to the Gatsby benchmarks and the Baker Clause.