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University of Sussex joins national effort to help under-represented young people access university during pandemic
By: Neil Vowles
Last updated: Tuesday, 7 July 2020
University of Sussex staff have created modules on student life, study skills, personal statements and student finance as part of a new national project to support under represented groups of young people access higher education during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The newly launched Uni4Me project brings together 250 online activities from 50 organisations in the higher education (HE) sector including the University of Sussex.
The online hub, launched at the start of this month by the Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan, offers free, interactive activities including virtual courses in a range of subjects led by university academics; online tuition and support in core GCSE and A Level academic subjects; live events involving leading academics, students and specialist HE advisors; information sessions for parents and carers and virtual campus tours.
Uni4Me, led by the National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) and funded by the participating organisations, will act as central portal where learners, parents and teachers can access free activities to help them progress to HE.
The University of Sussex has been a member of NEON, the professional organisation supporting those working to widen access to HE, since the organisation was founded and has continuously had membership of its executive committee.
Sam Dunnett, Head of Widening Participation at the University of Sussex and the university's current NEON committee representative, said: “When the threat of coronavirus started to escalate, WP outreach teams across the country ceased school and campus visits. For underrepresented groups of young people, WP trips and visits are sometimes the only source of information about accessing HE. We were really concerned as a sector how we could plug that gap and so it was agreed as a network to develop an online hub that could help to replace some of the lost information and guidance support that would normally be delivered.
“We have sought to make the best of these difficult circumstances and create a national one stop shop which the network had been considering for some years. " There are real advantages to participating in this project for the University as there is the potential to access thousands more young people than our conventional WP programmes. The WP team at Sussex will continue to develop the resources and activities uploaded to these pages to create a comprehensive online outreach programme" ”
Michelle Donelan, Universities Minister, said: “This has been an incredibly challenging time for pupils and it has never been more important for the sector to give every pupil the information and support they need to choose the right pathways for them. That is why I am delighted to launch Uni4Me, a platform to help students with the talent and ability to access and succeed within our world-leading universities, regardless of their background.”
In addition to Uni4Me, the University of Sussex WP team are running two virtual summer schools this month - for year 10 students on July 7 - 10 and for post-16 students on July 20 – 24. They will feature a mixture of live teaching events, social activities and independent learning on modules developed by our team, ambassadors and academic colleagues.
And the team have also developed the Unibuddy scheme during lockdown where young people can take part in live chats with WP ambassadors to have any questions they might have about entering HE answered by their peers.