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UWE Bristol invests £15.8m in students at risk of missing out on higher education

UWE Bristol

UWE Bristol is committing £15.8 million a year to reach out and support students who despite obtaining the qualifications are still missing out on higher education because of their background.

This will be the 5th largest expenditure on access measures for 2014-15 by a UK university according to figures just announced by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA). UWE is also making the largest investment in helping these students succeed once they are at University.

The support includes £7.3m in bursaries which provide students with direct financial support whilst at university, students from low income backgrounds, care leavers, black and minority ethnic students, Access programme and disabled students will be able to receive support including a financial package worth up to £5,000 over three years.

In addition, UWE will offer 500 UWE bursaries and progression bursaries of £500 per year to students with low incomes.

On top of this, UWE is doubling its investment to £900,000 to boost students’ employment prospects including paid internships, placements and career mentoring from regional businesses for target students. UWE is in the top six universities in England for employment according to HESA figures released in June 2013.

The commitment builds on UWE’s partnerships with the region’s schools and colleges, and aims to widen participation among those who might not otherwise aspire to or progress to higher education.

John Rushforth, Deputy Vice-Chancellor commented, “Earlier this year The Guardian newspaper University League Table put the University second in terms of ‘added value’. We put this down to investment we make in student success. The University also strives to find work placement opportunities for students who because of their background wouldn’t be able to secure those chances.”

The £15.8 million access and outreach activity in the University’s Access Agreement includes:

· More than 700 bursaries for new students from key target groups and with income below £25,000, worth up to £5000 over three years.

· Key target groups include care leavers, disabled people, refugees, those from low participation neighbourhoods, mature students, students participating in UWE’s Heading Higher Passport Plus scheme or students from UWE’s Federation colleges.

· 500 UWE bursaries and progression bursaries of £500 per year to students on low incomes. Provision for part-time students is available pro rata.

· £700,000 is allocated to the Learner’s Support Fund, which supports students who are facing financial hardship and disabled students.

· Doubling of the fund for employability and enterprise measures to £900,000 including paid internships, career mentoring and work experience.

· Outreach activity to schools and colleges that builds awareness of the personal and career benefits of higher education.

· Support from UWE’s peer assisted learning scheme, leadership programme, and financial and wellbeing advice and guidance.

Maggie Westgarth, Head of Employability and Enterprise at UWE said, “Graduate destination data published this summer demonstrates the added value of high quality work-based learning – for example placement students have 50% lower unemployment and a 30% higher level of professional and managerial jobs than non-placement students.

“UWE is investing in building placement activity and has achieved a 30% increase in sandwich placements over the last year. High-quality work experience is also being developed outside the curriculum through subsidised internships – UWE has funded over a thousand of these since early 2010 linking UWE students with burgeoning small and medium sized companies in the region.”

Professor Les Ebdon, Director of Fair Access to Higher Education said, “I am pleased that universities and colleges have risen to the challenges I set them and are spending increasingly smartly.

“…Universities and colleges that already have more representative student populations are putting greater resources into supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds during their studies, so they are more likely to complete their courses, fulfil their potential and go on to their chosen career or postgraduate study.”

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