The students, from a variety of sixth forms and colleges from around Staffordshire, qualified to take part in the Aimhigher HE Challenge and were selected by their schools to take part in the programme, which was delivered by Liz Allen and Helen Chapman from Staffordshire University.
Aimhigher is designed for students from geographical areas of deprivation, from lower socio-economic groups and HE Challenge is aimed at Year 12 students that are unsure whether university is for them despite their strong academic potential.
During the programme the students learn about all aspects of University life, from financial planning to life in Halls of Residence, with the aim of developing their academic skills, widening their knowledge of living away from home and building their confidence in an academic atmosphere. After completing the programme, the students can choose to be assessed for a 15 credit Staffordshire University Level 0 module.
After coming to the end of the programme, the students joined VC Christine King in an informal celebration of their success, and were joined by the programme’s partners from Staffordshire County Council School Improvement Division, Staffordshire Partnership and Staffordshire University’s Faculty of Arts, Media and Design.
Patricia Bolan, 18, from Chase Terrace Sixth Form, wasn’t sure if university was for her before joining Aimhigher. She said: “None of my family has ever been to university before and I wasn’t at all sure if it would be for someone like me or what I really wanted to do after school.”
“The head of my sixth form told me about the programme and said that it would be good for me so I put my name down and it turned out to be really nice and sociable. It was interesting and helped me to build my confidence in speaking out in the learning environment.”
“My friends and family have been really supportive and now they are all really proud that I will be going to university.”
Emma Butler, also 18 from Cannock Chase High Sixth Form, said: “The practical side was really helpful and interesting, particularly the information on financial aid which gave me a good idea of how it all works. Staffs Uni students came to talk to us which was really good and now my family are all really proud of my achievements.”
Both Emma and Patricia now plan to go on to University to study different disciplines in art – Patricia wants to study Fine Art and Museum and Gallery studies while Emma wants to take a Foundation year at college before going to University to study Fine Art with the ultimate aim of becoming an Art Therapist.
Wendy Wyatt, Aimhigher Learning Mentor at Cannock Chase High School, said: “This is a great scheme as it gives students the opportunity to take time out for in depth research which helps to de-mystify university for people with real academic talent but little confidence in their own ability. It is great that these students have been given this opportunity and not only has it been really informative but they’ve all enjoyed it and I have enjoyed it too!”
For more information, please contact Staffordshire University's Judith Robinson, Area Co-ordinator for Aimhigher Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, on 01782 294522 or firstname.lastname@example.org