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News | Access & Retention

UPP Foundation Awards MyBigCareer £14k

Innovative project to provide students with springboard to university success


The UPP Foundation, a charitable trust created by University Partnerships Programme (UPP) to help tackle the biggest issues facing the higher education sector across the UK, has today announced it is to fund a £14k project that will see student volunteers supporting disadvantaged pupils on A-Level results day, and provide each student with a mentor to guide them through their first six months of university life.

The £14k grant allocation to MyBigCareer, a charitable service aimed at helping young people make decisions about their career path, is the latest in a series of projects being backed by the UPP Foundation.

In partnership with MyBigCareer and Anglia Ruskin University, the project will see trained student volunteers advising university applicants from under-represented groups on A-Level results day. This is particularly helpful when an applicant receives different grades to what they were anticipating, requiring support in navigating the best possible options available to them. The second phase of the project will see undergraduate and postgraduate student volunteers supporting their first year peers via an online mentoring programme.

The programme has already been rolled out in schools across Hackney, East London, where undergraduate and postgraduate students and outreach teams work with the schools’ A-Level students to secure the best possible university place for them based on their results. Since the programmes’ inception, one school has seen its first successful application to Cambridge while two successful applications have been made to Oxford. The project aims to expand this service to higher education “cold spots” throughout East Anglia, leaving a legacy across the region.

Dr Paul Marshall, Chair of the Board of Trustees at the UPP Foundation, said: “Our goal is to ensure that everyone with the potential and ambition to go to and succeed at university has the ability to do so, regardless of background, family income or disability. There are still too many barriers to access for underrepresented groups and too many challenges to overcome once there for students who face disadvantages.

“This project strives to increase access and retention through assisting students whose access is prohibited by their socioeconomic background or knowledge poverty. This causes a lack of understanding of higher education and other career pathways which we and MyBigCareer, in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University, endeavour to break down. We are extremely proud to be sponsoring the efforts of an esteemed charity such as MyBigCareer, an organisation working with the most disadvantaged students who represent hard-to-reach groups of young people, enabling them to fulfil their potential.”

Deborah Streatfield, founder of MyBigCareer, said: “All at MyBigCareer are pleased that the UPP Foundation is supporting our highly successful Results day Project. It is imperative that young students are given the support and guidance early on the day and we are grateful to Anglia Ruskin University for their help and direction over the last few months.”

Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable, patron of MyBigCareer, said: “MyBigCareer is doing valuable work providing careers advice and guidance in schools and communities which are badly served at present, helping to raise aspirations and improve outcomes. I am delighted that this partnership will be able to take its work to a higher level.”

Marc Rothera at Anglia Ruskin University said: “Collaborative working is a key aspect of many of our most successful projects, so teaming up with MyBigCareer to provide, enhance and further develop the resources we have available to schools and colleges across the eastern region was a very easy decision. We’re excited to get started on the project and looking forward to supporting some of the hardest to reach young people in our area with high quality advice, guidance and advocacy alongside the expert team at MyBigCareer.”

The bulk of the project will be carried out over six months, with the first phase being launched this year. Phases which support students via mentoring and track retention rates will be ongoing.

MyBigCareer Volunteers in Hackney, East London

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