29.01.20 | Press

Fairer Futures for people in the Black Country, and Telford and Wrekin

On Wednesday 29th January, the Office for Students will be launching their new Uni Connect programme at an event in the House of Commons. The Uni Connect programme is the combined effort of local hubs across England, which have already supported over 180,000 young people, and their parents and carers, with impartial advice, guidance and activities.

Aspire to HE

Led by the University of Wolverhampton and in partnership with six further education colleges and 40 schools, Aspire HE is aiming to ensure that regardless of their context or background, all people have a fair and equal chance of fulfilling their potential through Higher education. Aspire to HE is working in target wards across Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall, Wolverhampton, and Telford and Wrekin, and since January 2017 has worked with over 29 thousand learners.

The young people that take have taken part in Aspire to HE activities have access to a wide variety of opportunities which aim to build the skills and knowledge they need to make an informed and ambitious decisions about higher education and their future. Events and activities take place in school, on-campus at the University of Wolverhampton, and out in the community with businesses and employers.

Dan Howells, Director of Aspire to HE said:

‘Our Aspire to HE Partnership is ambitious. Our goal is that every person in our region has a fair and equal chance to progress to Higher education compared to anyone else in the country. In just three years, the Aspire to HE partnership already has evidence showing our work has supported the improved knowledge and skills that young people need to both progress and succeed in Higher education.

The launch of the Uni Connect Programme is incredibly exciting: with the support from the Government over a longer period, the continued work of Aspire to HE can be transformational for our region, its economy, and crucially for the our local young people’. 

Aspire to HE Student Case Study – Amman Ahmed, Dudley College

Amman is a first year student at Dudley College and is currently studying for his A Levels in History, Product Design, and IT. On Wednesday 29th January, he joined two members of the Aspire to HE team for the launch of the Uni Connect Programme in Parliament with the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, the Rt Hon Chris Skidmore MP.

Previously a student at Pegasus Academy, Amman is one of over 29,000 local students who have engaged with the Aspire to HE programme since 2017. This includes completing the Brilliant Club programme and an Easter Revision programme, which took place at the University of Wolverhampton.

He has found that taking part in Aspire to HE activities has helped him gain a better understanding of Higher education. “I think it’s got rid of any doubts I had about uni, and I’m actually looking forward to uni now,” he says. Attending weekly sessions with our Aspire Progression Officer based in Amman’s school, has boosted his understanding of university and higher education, “she taught us things which you don’t learn in secondary school, how to apply to university, UCAS, bursaries, and I think if we didn’t have that, I don’t think I’d want to go to uni, because of all the stigma behind it.”

Taking part in Aspire to HE activities has given Amman more confidence. When talking about taking part in the Easter Revision programme he commented; “because it was right before the exam period it did help me a lot, it built my confidence because I could understand what they were saying, and in the end I got a good result in Science.”

Amman has also benefitted from taking part in activities based at the University of Wolverhampton, where he has met students from other schools and colleges. “They’ve also grown my confidence, doing events on campus, meeting new people, and speaking to people has grown my confidence.” When reflecting on his experience of Brilliant Club; a national charity that has PHD students working with local school/ college pupils, supporting them to do a University-level piece of work, he commented; “at the end of the Brilliant Club, our work was graded and I got a 2:1. I think by doing the Brilliant Club, I do now look forward to going to uni, it was hands-on and we had to create a bibliography. Something I hadn’t had to do before at school.”

It has changed his perceptions of higher education too. “It has got rid of my uni doubts, which were always there in the back of my mind; it’s helped me think about it more in a different way, and obviously grown my confidence a lot.”

Thinking ahead to his own future, Amman hopes to go on to study History at the University of Wolverhampton or University of Birmingham, and following graduation he would like to go into teaching.

Reflecting on Aspire to HE, Amman comments: “I would 100% recommend Aspire to HE activities to other students, it’s something new, you get to see the University of Wolverhampton, and everything they do will really benefit you.”

For further information contact Dan Howells on 01902 322404 or d.howells@wlv.ac.uk

  1. Aspire to HE is a partner of the Uni Connect programme funded by the Office for Students. The Office for Students is the independent regulator for higher education in England. Their aim is to ensure that every student, whatever their background, has a fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers.