Norwich university launches drive to reduce education barriers for white working class boys

Vice Chancellor of the UEA David Richardson. Picture: UEA

Vice Chancellor of the UEA David Richardson. Picture: UEA - Credit: UEA

A Norwich university has launched a campaign to reduce barriers in education for white working class boys.

The University of East Anglia (UEA) has started its He Can We Can drive, which will include a mentoring scheme, events to encourage disadvantaged boys into sectors such as health and a conference bringing together experts who hope to tackle low male aspirations.

It comes after the government called on universities in 2016 to increase participation in higher education for white working class boys.

UEA's vice-chancellor professor David Richardson, who grew up near Newcastle, said as a teenager he felt university wasn't for him.

'At one point as a teenager I was someone who wasn't doing that well at school and was probably destined to leave school at 16 but I could see the opportunities a university education brings and I turned things around,' he said.

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'Unfortunately, the low proportion of men attending university, compared to women is a national issue, but one we at UEA are keen to address.

'Young men in this group can be disengaged with education, have low aspirations and may think that university isn't within their reach, or not for them. We want to provide boys with more opportunities, but also want to encourage them to raise their own expectations and change their thinking around higher education.'

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A recent Higher Education Policy Institute report suggested women born in 2018 could be up to 75pc more likely to go to university than men.

Currently, just 20pc of UK universities work actively with young disadvantaged men to raise attainment.

UEA's project will include Inside Industry, a six-month initiative where teenagers receive mentoring from UEA students and local firms including Aviva and Creative Sponge.

Charlotte Wheatland, assistant head of outreach at UEA, said: 'The programme aims to engage male students, raising their aspirations, confidence, and attainment, to help them progress to higher education.

'We want to have a significant impact on the young people in large pockets of working class males across the UK.'

UEA already runs a Sports for Boys programme, which invites young people onto campus to try new sports and experience university life.

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