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Local students discover their potential through inspiring outreach initiative

Local students discover their potential through inspiring outreach initiative

Over 28,000 students in the South have benefitted from taking part in over 1,500 educational outreach activities provided by the Southern Universities Network (SUN) since 2017. The SUN is part of the national Uni Connect programme recently launched by the Office for Students (OfS).

Uni Connect (formerly known as the National Collaborative Outreach Programme) was officially launched in Parliament by the then Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Rt Hon Chris Skidmore MP. The event brought together representatives of Uni Connect’s 29 national partnerships to mark the launch of the new programme, and to celebrate the achievements to-date.

Phase one of the programme started in 2017 aiming to increase the number of young people from underrepresented groups going into higher education, while also working in local areas where progression into higher education was lower than expected given the GCSE results of the young people who live there.

Building on phase one, phase two aims to establish outreach hubs in the 29 partnership regions to provide a platform on which educational staff can access helpful resources, impartial information and connect to outreach opportunities in their local area.

As one of the 29 partnerships, the SUN deliver the Uni Connect programme in Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight, working with students in 124 schools, sixth forms and further education colleges in the region. Outreach activities include residentials, workshops, assemblies, festivals, one-to-one mentoring, higher education exhibitions and community-based projects.

One student from St Vincent College, Gosport spoke about the programme:

“Before these events, I had no idea what I wanted to do after I leave college, but now I have had the opportunity to visit a university and see the courses they do. This made me realise that I’d like to study Adult Nursing at the university” 

Claire O’Neill, Head of the SUN says “Working with higher education providers within our region has enabled us to demonstrate the breadth of opportunities available to our young people and deliver a more bespoke offer to support them to make informed decisions about their future progression.”