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UEL and partners awarded £5.8 million to encourage social mobility through higher education 

Consortium will target young white males and ethnic minority groups in big outreach push

The University of East London (UEL) is part of a consortium that has been awarded £5.8 million over the next two years to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds across Essex to progress into higher education – particularly young white males and ethnic minority groups.

The Essex Collaborative Outreach Network – a countywide collaboration between universities and other educational providers – is one of 29 local consortia to receive funding to deliver the Government’s national outreach programme,  which will launch in January 2017. 

As well as UEL, the Essex consortium includes the University of Essex, Anglia Ruskin University, Colchester Institute, Harlow College, South Essex College of Further and Higher Education, Writtle University College, Clacton County High School, Cornelius Vermuyden School, Brightside Trust, Youth@Risk, The Brilliant Club, Essex County Council, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Thurrock Council. 

Specific local areas in Essex will be targeted where participation in higher education is both low overall and lower than expected given GCSE attainment levels across the county. Target areas include Basildon, Braintree, Colchester, Harlow, Southend, Tendring, Thurrock and Witham. 

Network Manager Claudia Carey said, “We’ve got an incredibly strong network of partners across Essex and we are determined to successfully connect with these hard to reach communities.

“We believe higher education can unlock the potential and talent of young people so we want to make sure they see further study as a real option for them.

“The consortium will deliver a programme of activities at schools, colleges, universities and within the community aimed at connecting with students in the identified areas.

“We have a long-term, core programme but alongside this we will also have additional activity around critical decision points for students such as results day for BTEC and A-level students. 

“Our higher education and further education partners are all working closely together with schools in Essex to develop activities which will really engage learners.

“Essex is a really varied county with a broad spectrum of students so we are trying to really tailor what we do for each area so students can pick activities suited to them.”

A key priority will be to deliver unbiased and reliable information and support to students so they can understand and make informed choices about the different opportunities available to them.

As well its involvement with the Essex network, UEL is also a member of the Linking London educational partnership, which will receive £800,000 of national outreach funding over the next two years to work with level 3 FE college learners in selected wards in Greater London, including Barking & Dagenham and Havering. 

A total of 260 higher education providers in England are involved in the national programme. The planned collaborations will ensure all 997 of the local wards identified in the Government’s analysis will be covered.

Consortia will deliver tested approaches to outreach through schools and local communities, as well as developing innovative ways to meet specific challenges in different areas. These activities will build upon and provide a boost to existing outreach work taking place across England.

A large-scale evaluation programme will measure the impact of the programme from the start to ensure investment is concentrated in activities that are shown to be the most effective.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said, ‘We are seeing record numbers of disadvantaged young people going to university and benefiting from the real opportunities that our world class universities can offer.

“This funding and the schemes that have been developed by universities will make a real difference to young people in key areas.”