By Emma Videan
Cardiff University is now offering school pupils from vulnerable and disadvantaged groups the opportunity to gain a valuable insight into what university life is really like. Step Up to University is an ambitious two-year programme for college and sixth-form students offering an opportunity to sample higher education through an academic course, summer school and events.
The free academic scheme has already attracted 250 pupils and 100 parents from south Wales, who attended the first session at Cardiff University on the 31st January. The sessions will run until the end of May.
Scott McKenzie, the University’s Head of Widening Participation and Community Outreach, said: “By working collaboratively to raise aspirations, the Step Up programme offers practical support as well as tailored guidance and advice for those with the ability to succeed at higher education.
“Through masterclasses, events and workshops, we aim to help remove the barriers to higher education faced by these groups and equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to reach their potential at university.
“This is completely different to anything we’ve done before because we’re offering pupils from disadvantaged and vulnerable groups the opportunity to complete a mini university course as well as a residential summer school.”
The pupils who have signed up to take part in this academic course will receive the skills and knowledge required to study at university level. The monthly sessions will develop the young people’s presentation, analytic and research skills. This will be taught using a variety of teaching methods that have been designed to be interactive and improve upon confidence and self-esteem.
The student’s will have an option in what they specifically want to study, and will choose from five streams: Social Sciences, Life Sciences, Health Sciences, Physical Sciences and Humanities.
The students will have an academic tutor and, subject to some terms a conditions, those students who decide to study at Cardiff University after sixth-form will be offered a means-tested bursary.
After these sessions end in May, there will be a summer school placement in July where the pupils who have shown their commitment to the scheme will be invited to stay overnight in halls of residence to get the true university experience. Not only this but they will take part in a mini academic conference that will culminate in poster exhibitions and presentations.
Parents are also invited to take part in short courses on campus alongside the young people in order to hook parents into learning, in the hopes to hook the parents into studying in order to ultimately encourage their children to continue.