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​Chichester pioneers new online initiative to help disadvantaged students reach university

THE UNIVERSITY of Chichester is trailblazing a new outreach initiative to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds whose education has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The project intends to take its support programmes online to give pupils – many of whom come from low participation areas or are the first in their family to go to university – full access to free learning activities to help them progress to university.

Chichester is one of 50 higher education institutions to trial the Uni4Me initiative, which has been developed by National Education Opportunities Network, known as NEON. It comes after a report from the organisation found more than 80 per cent of higher education providers do not expect to be working in schools before January 2021 due to the impact of Covid-19.

Student Recruitment and Outreach Manager Chris Rogers is responsible for Chichester’s activity which covers targeted and disadvantaged groups across the south coast and further afield. He said: “As the opportunity for face-to-face support will be more challenging, this new initiative will help us plan sessions and projects in a blended format of synchronous and asynchronous activity.

“We pride ourselves in our face-to-face sessions being interactive ensuring students get to fully explore what higher education can offer them. We will take time to plan engaging virtual content that will sit alongside and compliment face to face delivery as we are able to get back to this form of delivery in the future.”

University of Chichester's outreach team (taken before social distancing rules implemented)

*Above photo taken before social distancing rules were implemented*

 

Chichester's free content features videos and learning materials

The Uni4Me online hub will offer free, interactive activities including virtual courses in a range of subjects led by university academics. It will also provide online tuition and support in core GCSE and A-Level academic subjects, live events involving leading academics, students and specialist HE advisors, as well as sessions for parents and carers and virtual campus tours.

Among the activities provided by the Chichester’s outreach team include video content explaining finance and the funding needed to pay for tuition, advice on writing personal statements, and other support on starting at university.

Around £600 million will be invested in UK outreach programmes by HE providers and the government in 2021 to close gaps in participation between those from different backgrounds. Universities Minister Michelle Donelan has given her backing the new Uni4Me platform, amid the upheaval to education across the UK caused by coronavirus.

She 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.”

NEON aims to expand the activities on offer from Uni4Me over the next year and work with more partners from across educational sectors.

 

Find out more

The University of Chichester’s outreach team has helped thousands of young people across the last decade explore the benefits of higher education and the new life-changing possibilities created by gaining a degree, including many whom are the first in their family to go university.

Find out more at www.chi.ac.uk/outreach or, alternatively, for more about the new Uni4Me platform go to https://uni4me.co.uk.