‘Uni4Me’, will see 50 organisations from the higher education sector across the country provide around 250 free, interactive online activities for the students.

Exeter part of national project to support disadvantaged students affected by COVID-19 to enter higher education

The University of Exeter has joined a national project designed to offer pivotal support to disadvantaged students, who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, to enter higher education.

The new online hub, called ‘Uni4Me’, will see 50 organisations from the higher education sector across the country provide around 250 free, interactive online activities for the students.

The activities include virtual courses in a range of subjects led by university academics; online tuition and support in core GCSE/A Level academic subjects; live events involving leading academics, students and specialist HE advisors; information sessions for parents/carers and virtual campus tours.

The University of Exeter, through our Discover University programme, will be providing students with opportunities to discover more about the world-leading research at the University of Exeter. In addition, regular advice and guidance workshops are hosted online twice a week, with staff and current students discussing topics including choosing a course and university, degree apprenticeships and student finance and budgeting.

The online hub, led by the National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) and funded by the participating organisations, will act as central portal where learners, parents and teachers can access free activities to help them progress to HE.

It is officially launched today (July 1st 2020) by the Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan.

Michelle Donelan said: “This has been an incredibly challenging time for pupils and it has never been more important for the sector to give every pupil the information and support they need to choose the right pathways for them.

“That is why I am delighted to launch Uni4Me, a platform to help students with the talent and ability to access and succeed within our world-leading universities, regardless of their background.”

Nicola Sinclair, Head of Widening Participation and UK Student Recruitment at the University of Exeter said: “At the University of Exeter we have always worked around the country to help provide support and advice for teachers and pupils thinking about higher education.

“As soon as it became clear schools and our campuses would close we worked hard to replicate as much of that work online as possible, because it is crucial prospective students can still experience what university is like, and get support to help them make decisions about their future. The Uni4Me platform will allow us to broaden our reach and support a greater number of students.”

Uni4Me will support HE providers and Uni Connect partnerships in their work to widen access to higher education for those from under-represented groups.  More than £600 million in 2020-21 has being invested by HE providers and the government to close gaps in HE participation between those from different backgrounds.

Chair of NEON, Professor Sir Les Ebdon, ex Director of Fair Access to Higher Education added: ‘Going to university transformed my life from a kid off a corporation estate to a knight of the realm. In recent years many universities and charities have provided great programmes to overcome disadvantage but the Covid-19 lockdown threatens these efforts.

“Uni4Me is a great opportunity to showcase the many online programmes now available which will be so important to providing fairer opportunities for all.”

Uni4Me will make a significant contribution to the work that the UK HE sector is doing to address disadvantage in the context of Covid-19. Research by NEON indicates that over 80% of HE providers do not expect to be able to work in schools before January 2021 due to the impact of Covid-19.

Participation in the Uni4Me hub will be tracked to enable schools, colleges and universities to ensure that those who most need it are benefiting from the resources on offer. The aim is to expand the activities on offer from Uni4Me over the next year and work with more partners from across educational sectors.

Date: 1 July 2020

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