‘Champions’ to be put in Norfolk schools and colleges to see more disadvantaged students go to university

PUBLISHED: 16:40 31 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:31 01 August 2017

An aerial picture of the University of East Anglia. Picture: University of East Anglia

An aerial picture of the University of East Anglia. Picture: University of East Anglia


University champions will be put in Norfolk’s sixth forms and colleges to drive up the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds going into higher education.

The 10 “champions” are part of the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Widening Participation team, and have been placed in schools and colleges to work with students deciding on their next step.

Another two, organised by Norwich University of the Arts (NUA), will focus on arts, design and media and will work closely, and remotely, with creative students living in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

It comes as part of the government’s £120m National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP), which targets wards across the country - including 74 in the east of England - where fewer pupils move onto higher education.

Its overall aim is to double the proportion of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds entering higher education by 2020.

Astra Richardson is one of the champions, and will be based at City Academy Norwich and City College Norwich (CCN).

She said: “A lot of great work is already going on to encourage young people to choose higher education when they might not previously have even considered it as an option.

“We’ll add to this with initiatives such as supporting students with their study skills, bringing employers in to speak about graduate career opportunities, peer-to-peer mentoring programmes and by working together to put on larger events to motivate and inspire students across the county and region.”

UEA shares £9m of the £120m cash pot with Anglia Ruskin University, NUA and the Universities of Cambridge and Suffolk, in a partnership known as the Network for East Anglian Collaborative Outreach.

Stefanie Copsey, UEA’s programme coordinator, said: “Young people’s likelihood of applying to university is not only influenced by their economic and social background, but by where they live... Our project aims to ensure that young people are equipped to make the right decision for them in their next steps in life.”

She said there were “significant pockets” of students achieving qualifications to enter higher education, but not doing so.

Jerry White, deputy principal at CCN, said they were delighted to welcome Astra to the team.

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