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Digital festival brings higher education to disadvantaged youngsters

24 July 2020

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Cardiff University is running its first online festival to support disadvantaged young people from a variety of backgrounds into higher education.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Gŵyl eCampws festival – delivered in collaboration with the Sutton Trust and First Campus - will offer innovative online activities to 16-18-year-olds as part of a two-week programme.

Bringing together University staff, students, educators and young people, Gŵyl eCampws builds on the University’s successful widening participation activities and is aimed at helping prepare students for university, developing skills and showing the benefits of higher education.

Shaped by the young people themselves, the festival will focus on five areas which reflect their own needs and interests.

The Sutton Trust project works with 16-17-year-olds interested in medicine, and will offer tailored advice for medical applications and interviews whilst also providing insight into the course.

Step Up, the University’s flagship project for 16-17-year-olds from South East Wales will base activities around group research and an academic conference led by Outreach Tutors.

Insights is for students holding an offer to study at Cardiff University in September and will see festival-goers working in groups to solve a challenge, developing essential skills to help them prepare for university life.

Discovery is for young people with autism spectrum conditions. The main activity will use Minecraft to teach students about university life.

The First Campus Team will also run a festival project specifically for young carers from Wales.

Across the five events, c.400 young people from around the UK are expected to take part.

Claire Morgan, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Education and Students at Cardiff University said: “We are working in difficult times and the impact of Covid-19 on some of our most vulnerable young people has been significant. It is now even more important that we support those young people into higher education and their transition and plans for the future. I’m looking forward to welcoming the groups of young people to our festival and seeing what they are capable of achieving.”

Alongside the main programme, students will be given general information, advice and guidance to support their journey to higher education.  

The Festival also includes a variety of social activities for students to join, such as a live theatre stream night, virtual quizzes, online yoga and fitness classes, podcasts, vlogs, virtual tours of Cardiff and the university campus, and festival links to music and comedy sessions.

Support will also be offered to the parents or guardians of those joining the festival.

Speaking about the Discovery Programme, a parent of one of the young people involved said: “Thank you so much for keeping these Discovery sessions going. Charlie is very black-and-white about Coronavirus and has refused to leave the house since lockdown began. The Discovery sessions are the only real interaction he's prepared to engage in with people outside the house, so we really appreciate the fact that he can keep having this connection, even if you're not seeing his face!

“What you and your project are doing is fantastic and makes an immense difference to young people's lives. I just wanted to make sure you know how valuable what you do is, and how appreciated the time you put into it is.”

Gŵyl eCampws starts on 27th July 2020. Further information on the festival is available here:

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We aim to offer flexibility and choice in our programmes, as well as developing additional routes of entry.