Study Higher funding

News

Date: 5th Apr 2016

Buckinghamshire New University has secured two years' funding in partnership with Oxford Brookes University, the University of Oxford and the University of Reading to support the development of a local network to help more young people into higher education.

The funding is part of a new £22 million programme known as the National Networks for Collaborative Outreach (NNCO) scheme which is set to deliver a nationally coordinated approach to working with schools, universities and colleges to encourage greater numbers of students into higher education.

Over 200 higher education institutions will be involved, reaching 4,300 secondary schools and colleges through the work.

Sally Cushing, Widening Participation Manager at Bucks New University, said: "This is great news for Bucks in terms of enhancing the work the University does with state secondary schools and colleges to increase their students' progression to higher education. Through this scheme and by working in partnership, we will be able to extend our geographic reach and therefore impact."

The local network, led by Oxford Brookes University and supported by Bucks, the University of Oxford and the University of Reading, will deliver its programme under the existing Study Higher partnership name. It will be one of 35 local networks covering England, and will be funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and managed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The funding will support the expansion of Study Higher to include six regional further education colleges offering higher education programmes, helping to ensure that prospective students are fully aware of the higher education study opportunities available across Buckinghamshire, Bracknell Forest, Milton Keynes, Oxfordshire, Reading, Swindon, West Berkshire and Wokingham.

Each of the 35 networks will appoint a single point of contact to help teachers and advisers find out about higher education outreach activity in their area and provide general advice about progression. The local networks will host websites with information about accessing higher education and provide support to schools and colleges as they prepare their students for higher education.

Greg Clark, Minister for Universities and Science, welcomes the networks and said: "'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. However there is still more work to do to ensure all students who want to study hard can benefit, irrespective of their background."

Editor's notes:

1. The NNCO scheme was first announced in a written ministerial statement in November 2013, when the former Minister for Universities and Science set out changes to the National Scholarship Programme from 2014-15 onwards. He stated that:

"By bringing forward from 2015-16 the planned reduction of £100 million in funding for the NSP we are able to redirect £25 million to establish a new network to support collaborative outreach.

"Universities, colleges and schools will benefit from an investment of £25 million in 2014 to help them work together more effectively as they reach out to encourage more people from disadvantaged backgrounds to apply to university."

2. Funding of £22 million is provided for the academic years 2014-15 and 2015-16. The remaining £3 million from the £25 million allocated will fund the rolling-out of the Higher Education Access Tracker, a sector-owned service which enables institutions to track learners through the education system and measure the success of their interventions.

3. The NNCO scheme funds publicly-funded universities and colleges to develop local networks to coordinate outreach activities for all state-funded secondary schools and colleges in England. At present 226 universities and colleges are partners in networks.

4. The three national networks will offer specific support to care leavers, older learners and learners aspiring to progress to Oxford and Cambridge.

5. Networks will work most closely with schools and colleges which have relatively few pupils who go on to university, but the scheme will offer a gateway to information for all state-funded schools and colleges.

6. Funding has been made available to networks of universities and colleges which are already in place - for example, those which developed in some areas following the cessation of the Aimhigher programme - as well as to newly developed networks.

7. Where appropriate, HEFCE is encouraging networks to use the funding to support approaches to higher skills and progression, using European Social Fund grants in conjunction with their local enterprise partnership.

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