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School pupils welcomed to special ‘graduation day’ at University of Sussex
More than 60 school pupils donned mortarboards and gowns last weekend to celebrate their graduation from a study programme at the University of Sussex.
The sixth-formers from schools across Sussex and London had been enrolled in the Sussex Study Experience (SSE), a programme designed to give them a taste of university life.
As part of the scheme, pupils have had the chance to watch a criminal trial, take part in a fundraising challenge for charity, and explore the iconic Brighton Pavilion.
Shiu Shan, from BHASVIC sixth-form college in Brighton, said: “Some of the best things about the programme were meeting new people and trying things I’ve never done before.”
Ambra Vivian, from Bexley Grammar School, added: “We really bonded as a team which helped not only my social skills but also my study skills.”
The SSE is an initiative to raise the aspirations of young people who would be the first in their family to attend university, as well as those from groups that are under‑represented in higher education.
The scheme, run by the University’s Widening Participation team, provides sixth‑formers from across the South East of England with short academic courses in a range of subjects.
Young people are also offered an optional residential stay on the Sussex campus to introduce them to what life is like as a student.
Carole Wilkinson, Joint Head of Widening Participation at the University of Sussex, said: “It has been a great pleasure working with such dedicated students.
“This may be the end of this particular programme. However I hope it will provide a springboard to the many opportunities that the Widening Participation team offers, in order to support these pupils’ individual educational journey and beyond.”
This year has seen the largest ever cohort of pupils involved in the scheme, with young people from 21 secondary schools and colleges taking part.
At the graduation event on Saturday (15 July), the pupils created an exhibition for their parents and teachers about what they had learnt from the programme.
Parents were given a tour of the University’s campus, before watching their children graduate in a special ceremony at the Attenborough Centre of the Creative Arts (ACCA).
Susie Hudson, a trustee for The Clock Tower Sanctuary, was present at the graduation event and thanked the SSE pupils for their help in fundraising for the charity.
Pupils on the SSE’s business course took part in an ‘Apprentice’ style challenge to raise money for the organisation, which supports homeless young people in Brighton and Hove.
Ms Hudson said: “I was very impressed with all the students and think it is an excellent course and a great opportunity for them.”
The SSE scheme has been running for a number of years and feedback shows that it has a significant effect on young people’s confidence, and on their aspirations to go to a university.
Out of the pupils who took part in the 2015-16 SSE programme, 100% believed it would help them with their current academic studies.
A further 80% believed that their personal confidence and self‑belief had increased after graduating from the programme, while 88% said that they now felt university was a realistic and achievable goal.