Children graduate from “inspirational” University of Sussex programme
More than 200 children ‘graduated’ at the University of Sussex this week after attending a programme aimed at guiding them towards a bright future.
The young people donned mortarboards and gowns to celebrate the conclusion of the University's Making Choices academic programme at two graduation ceremonies on Tuesday (3 May) and Thursday (5 May).
Making Choices is designed specifically for young people from groups under-represented in higher education, often those who would be the first in their family to ever attend University.
The programme aims to raise the aspirations of young people from these groups, making them familiar with university life and helping them to plan their future.
The scheme saw 12–14-year-olds from local schools taking part in a number of hands-on activities such as building robots, staging mock court trials, making adverts, and using DNA to solve pretend crimes.
Pupils described the programme as “fun,” “wonderful” and “educational,” and their teachers added that Making Choices was “life changing” and “an inspirational programme.”
Gino Graziano, Joint Head of Widening Participation at the University, said: “We’re really keen to make sure that we’re engaging local teenagers at a crucial time in their lives when they’re starting to consider life choices. We want to help them make informed decisions and that means giving them an insight into what learning and teaching in higher education is really like and University life overall.
“They may not choose to go to uni, for very good reasons. But through schemes like ours they may also find out that it’s something they really want to pursue, and realise that it’s accessible to them.
“A recent report from the House of Lords suggests that young people aren’t getting enough support in choosing career paths, so we’re also aiming to help fill the gap and make sure young students think big and aspire to great things.”
The University of Sussex also runs a First-Generation Scholars scheme, which launched in 2012, offering financial help and a package of support to students from low income families.
The first students enrolled in this scheme in 2012, graduating in 2015, have achieved academic success, with over 85% gaining a good degree (2:1 or above). This rose to 86% for black and ethnic minority first generation scholars.
These students continued to be successful after graduating; a recent survey showed that 90% of first generation scholars who graduated in 2015 are currently in either graduate level jobs or postgraduate studies, compared to 88% for the total student population.