University news

Schoolkids 'graduate' from University of Sussex

Over 300 12-14 year olds from across Sussex have graduated this week from the University of Sussex's Making Choices programme

Over 300 schoolchildren from across Sussex donned gowns and mortarboards as they graduated from a unique programme at the University of Sussex.

The Year 8 and 9 pupils from nine local schools have just completed a six-month programme designed to give them a taste of university life and guide them towards a bright future. 

Making Choices is designed specifically for 12-14 year olds from groups under-represented in higher education, often those who would be the first in their family to ever attend university.

The programme has seen the youngsters painting in the style of Van Gogh, debating good and evil in Harry Potter, designing racing cars, producing adverts, and solving medical conundrums. Nineteen academic teams led sessions in a wide range of subjects from anthropology to engineering, philosophy to physics.

Making Choices is one of the UK’s most comprehensive programmes for this age group who are yet to choose their GCSEs. It is now in its third year and hundreds of parents, carers and guests joined the graduating students at this year’s graduation ceremonies.

An important aspect of the events is to provide information, advice and guidance to parents, who are often concerned about some of the financial implications of studying for a degree.

Michelle, a parent from Felpham Community College who has never visited a university, said the event made her feel “very informed and comfortable with the thought of my son attending university” despite thinking higher education was “overwhelming and a little daunting” before attending. Another parent commented that the programme had “taken the mystery and fear out of the whole idea of university”.

Gill Woodman, school co-ordinator at Felpham, commented: “It was, as always, a lovely evening, and so many parents said how much they had enjoyed it and how it had helped them to understand more about university. I feel very privileged that our students can take part in the programme.”

A student from Eastbourne Academy added: “I am very grateful that I was able to take part in such an eye-opening opportunity. The academic days taught me so much, not only about university life, but about the world. Each day was also full of fun and laughter.

“The graduation evening was amazing. It was so exciting to be able to dress up in a mortarboard and robe and celebrate the achievements we had made as individuals and as a school. It felt as though we were all graduating for real! The whole experience has really made me think about going to university in the future, something that I previously didn’t think was for me. I am very thankful for the opportunity and wish we could carry on with the experience!” 

The nine local schools that have taken part this year: 

  • The Eastbourne Academy and Ratton School in Eastbourne 
  • Claverham Community College in Battle
  • Felpham Community College in Bognor Regis
  • Robertsbridge Community College
  • Shoreham Academy
  • Sir Robert Woodard Academy in Lancing
  • The Littlehampton Academy
  • and Varndean School in Brighton

The graduation ceremonies took place on Wednesday 2 May and Wednesday 9 May in the University’s flagship Jubilee lecture theatre.

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Posted on behalf of: Widening Participation
Last updated: Friday, 25 May 2018