The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) has given the thumbs up to an innovative University of Sussex scheme that will benefit students from low-income backgrounds.
The First-Generation Scholars Scheme includes funding for every new Sussex student whose family income is less than £42,600, and it goes far beyond the minimum requirements laid down by government of providing £3,000 support for 230 students at Sussex. Under the University's scheme an estimated 800 students will qualify for a £5,000 financial support package, plus personal advice and guidance.
The University decided to set the income limit for financial support under its scheme at the highest possible level following consultation with staff and students.
Professor Clare Mackie, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning), says: "We want to ensure that all students eligible for grant support from government also receive direct financial support from Sussex.
"We know from working with our students in designing this scheme that this support can make all the difference to talented, hard-working students from low-income backgrounds.
"We believed a cut-off at £25,000 for family income, which is the standard national requirement, would be just too low."
The scholarship also goes further than most traditional schemes in offering wide-ranging support before, during and after university. These elements will especially benefit students with little or no family experience of university life.
Students who are eligible for an NHS bursary (those taking BA Social Work) are not eligible for the First-Generation Scholarship financial support package.
The package for students includes:
- invited to vacation summer events on campus;
- direct means-tested financial support of at least £1,000 each year while they study at Sussex - plus a £2,000 first-year fee waiver or the equivalent in rent reduction (£50 a week) to help them live on campus;
- a work-study programme for finding part time work while studying:
- access to some funded placements to help them gain work experience;
- three years' aftercare to help them into a graduate career.
The new Sussex scheme will also benefit schools and businesses in the region. Sussex students will provide 30,000 hours a year of mentoring to school pupils (ten times the amount currently), while the University will support hundreds of internships and work placements with local firms.
The scheme will be underpinned by a major expansion of the University's partnership work with schools and colleges to raise the aspirations of students from age 11 onwards, by doubling its investment in this area.
To find out more about the First-Generation Scholars Scheme, and if your son/ daughter would be eligible, please email firstname.lastname@example.org