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Evidence suggests that many school and college students from disadvantaged backgrounds who possess the ability to do well in higher education are not being given the encouragement and opportunity to apply to the full range of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) on offer, including those HEIs where competition is most intense.

The Aimhigher Associates Scheme focused on using undergraduate students (Associates) in HEIs to support these underrepresented learners at key points in their education so that they would be able to progress to higher education equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed even at the most competitive HEIs.

The Scheme consisted of two phases:

  • In the first phase, 2008–09, 17 Pathfinder Aimhigher Area Partnerships developed the Scheme within their own areas. Their experiences were then used to develop a coherent national approach for the second phase.
  • The second phase, 2009–11, involved all 42 Aimhigher Area Partnerships. The two-year national phase of the Scheme was launched in June 2009.

The Scheme was being by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and it had access to £21m over the three academic years from 2008 to 2011.


The Associates Scheme and Aimhigher, funded by HEFCE, ended in 2011.