Record numbers Step-Up to university

30 October 2012

Record numbers Step-Up to university

More students than ever before have gained a place at a higher education institution thanks to the University's successful widening access scheme, Step Up to University.

The programme develops a three-year relationship with pupils in schools from which there have traditionally been low rates of progression to university. Events, workshops and summer schools aim to raise aspirations, raise attainment and provide support for secondary aged pupils from disadvantaged areas to continue their studies post-16 and on into higher education.

In September this year, 250 pupils started university courses across the country, an increase of 60% on the same time in 2011. Of these, 98 students gained a place at Cardiff University, 40 more students than in 2011.

Pontypool-born Jade Cox, who attended Abersychan School, started a degree in Law at Cardiff's Law School in September and believes the programme enabled her to realise her full potential. She said: "The Step Up Programme definitely helped me especially as my parents hadn't gone to university. I attended the Uni Inspiration Day, Law Summer School, Bar Council event and recieved several useful newsletters via email. All the events gave me a feel for university life and what it would be like, and activities on the Summer School in particular gave me the confidence to know I would be able to do it when I was here for real."

The three-year programme provides opportunities to learn about higher education and in particular about professions from medicine, health, law and architecture to pharmacy, engineering, dentistry and planning.

Umulkhayr Mohamed from Adamsdown, and first year Pharmacy student at Cardiff University is also the first member of her family to go to university. She said the StepUp programme helped her believe in herself: "My first experience with Step-Up was taking part in the Uni Inspiration Day event in Year 11. I'd never been to a university before, so it was a good introduction. As I knew I always wanted a professional career I also attended the Summer School for the Professions, where I was able to meet students already studying Pharmacy, have many of my questions answered and find out about what I could expect as a student. At first I wasn't sure I was good enough to study Pharmacy at Cardiff but the Step Up programme made me realise that I was more than capable of getting in – it helped me believe in myself."

Vicki Roylance, Step-Up programme coordinator, said: "We are so pleased with the increasing numbers of students from the Step-Up programme securing places at university this year. It will be a life changing experience for them. As we expand the programme to reach more schools in which there have traditionally been low rates of progression to university, more and more students across Wales will have the opportunity to experience university life and all it has to offer and we will hopefully see even higher numbers in the years to come."

Around half of the Step-Up entrants to Cardiff University will also benefit from a £1,000 Next Step bursary. These awards have been introduced for the first time this year as part of the University's expanded student support package.

The Step-Up to University programme is supported by First Campus – the Reaching Wider Partnership for South East Wales.