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3 April 2018

MDP 3 'One Step Forward' event

On 3rd April, eight of our MDP 3 students undertaking the Social Responsibility Pathway delivered the ‘One Step Forward’ event to senior school pupils considering studying Business in the future.  The students designed the entire programme, which allowed participants to hear from guest lecturers from the Marketing and Economics departments.  The young people also had a tour of the campus and took part in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style activity to create and promote a new product.  24 pupils from 10 different schools attended.

Some comments from participants:


“It gives me an idea of what Uni is like and the sort of experience I’ll have.”

“It was fun and interesting as throughout the event we were able to interact and get to know other people there as well.”

“The lecturers were very interesting and engaging.  The activities were very fun and creative.”


 Some comments from the MDP 3 students when asked what they have taken from the experience:

 “I’ve learned to be very organised, to do everything on time, to communicate with my partners and I’ve also learned that Strathclyde is an amazing place and I’m proud I’m studying here.”

“I am a lot more confident.  I feel accomplished and like I have potentially made a difference.”

“The experience was great and gave me an opportunity to help others.  I gained a lot of organisational skills.”


1 November 2017

FOCUS West S2 Programme

We are now 3 months into the delivery of our new FOCUS West S2 programme and are delighted with the feedback we have received from both pupils and school staff. Mentors work with groups in-school to introduce young people to the FOCUS West programme, encouraging them to think about their own subject interests and how these could translate into HNC, HND and Degree courses, through activities that give a flavour of popular degree subjects such as Psychology, Biological Science and Business.  Since our inaugural event in Islay in September, we have worked with Rosshall Academy, Smithycroft Secondary School, St Mungo’s Academy, Clydebank High School, Drumchapel High School, Braidhurst High School and St Andrew’s Secondary School.

19-28 October 2017

National Care Leavers Week

The University promoted National Care Leavers Week on screens across campus during 19-28 October and also attended the Continuing Care Service, Dreams and Aspirations event at Drygate Brewery on 27 October where we heard so many success stories from care experienced young people.  The Widening Access Team have also organised a social event for our care experienced students in the form of a bowling trip!

5 October 2017

Aspire North visit

The Widening Access team work closely with the SHEP (Schools for Higher Education Programme) partners and we were delighted recently to host a group of visiting pupils as part of the Aspire North programme. Around 40 senior students at schools across the Highlands, accompanied by Aspire North staff, visited our campus to hear a talk about the range of courses we offer across our four faculties. They were then split into two groups and went on separate campus tours delivered by two of our Strathclyde Student Ambassadors, Daniel and Laureen. Luckily we had good weather for that, despite it being October in Glasgow! After the tour, they returned to the Graham Hills Building to hear about how to write an effective UCAS Personal Statement, followed by a Q&A session. We hope to receive some great applications from these students for 2018 entry! 

19 August 2017

Finding Your Way

On Saturday the 19th of August, the University hosted our annual Finding Your Way event for incoming mature students and direct entrants. Students heard a range of information from a variety of staff, including information about our Library and IT services and our Effective Learning Service. Attendees were also introduced to the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) which all of our students at Strathclyde use, as well as hearing a presentation from the Vice-President for Support from the University of Strathclyde Students’ Association. The day ended with information from our Student Support and Wellbeing Manager, who delivered a Finance talk which covered the financial provisions available from SAAS as well as the University.

Attendees were very positive about the event and we are looking forward to them joining us as students very soon! We will be in touch with this particular group of students again in October to ask them for suggestions for future iterations of the event. Once they have settled in to their courses, they may have ideas as to how we can make the event even better for next year!

June and July 2017

Accelerate Programme Summer 2017

Summer 2017 saw the 9th year of the Widening Access Team’s Accelerate programme for senior school pupils. 240 pupils, from 83 schools and 19 local authorities across Scotland attended the ten different one-week subject-specific Challenge programmes, giving them the opportunity to find out about the future University courses and career opportunities available to them. 42% of participants came from MD40 postcodes and 26% from MD20 postcodes. 31% came from low progression schools.

Pupils on the Accelerate programme were led through their group challenges by undergraduate and postgraduate Strathclyde student mentors. In addition, 10 pupils who had participated on the 2016 Accelerate programme were invited back to support the student mentors by working as Junior Mentors on different challenges on the 2017 programme.

On the Thursday morning of the second Accelerate week, the programme was visited by Shirley-Anne Somerville, Scotland’s Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, who met Student Mentors, Junior Mentors and pupil participants on the Chemistry, Law and Business Challenges.

Evaluation of participants on Accelerate 2017 shows that the programme had a very positive impact on pupils’ educational and career aspirations and on their confidence that they could go on to complete a University degree in their area of academic interest. Pupils also valued the opportunity to work with current Strathclyde students and meet other young people, while also developing their career-related skills.

Feedback from Accelerate 2017 pupils:

“This was such an amazing experience and the best part about my summer. Every day was so much fun and I had all my questions about university answered. I made friends for life and I wouldn’t change any of it. I am so lucky I was able to be part of this programme!”

 “It was enlightening to meet people from a diverse range of places and from various backgrounds. It opened my eyes to the reality of what a career in Computer Science entails and what significance a degree in Computer Science has.”

“It was the best type of open day ever! I really enjoyed it and would love to do it again!! It helped me to become more confident and helped me decide what university I would like to go to. Thank you Strathclyde!”

 “It was an amazing week and it turned out better than I thought it would. I was able to participate in things I wouldn’t normally be able to. This week has also been super informative and all the students and staff have been helpful. I know now that I certainly want to pursue a career in law.”

 “I really enjoyed this one week programme and I feel I have learnt a lot. This programme has helped me in choosing what type of engineering I would like to study. I am sad to see it come to an end and I am confident that what I have learnt was useful in my educational journey.”


10 December 2015

Anne Frank Ambassador Training

The Widening Access team was pleased to host the Anne Frank Trust in the University's Lord Hope Building recently. On the 8th and 9th of December the Anne Frank Trust trained their next set of Ambassadors - a group of 30 young people from Drumchapel, Notre Dame, Cleveden, Knightswood, Holyrood and John Paul. The pupils took place in high quality workshops delivered by the Anne Frank Trust, allowing them to examine themes of prejudice through the lens of Anne Frank's story. The fully trained Ambassadors will now work with younger pupils, organising and delivering exhibitions for them to impart their newfound knowledge on this really important subject matter. This is the second time we have hosted the Anne Frank Trust at the University and once again they were an absolute pleasure to work with - hopefully we can have them on the campus again before too long!

9 November 2015

Contextual Data in Admissions Website

The University is committed to Widening Access and ensuring that we recruit the best possible candidates from a range of backgrounds. Since September 2013 we have been taking contextual data into consideration when making admissions decisions to undergraduate degree programmes at the University. We are now pleased to announce the launch of a new website to further explain our approach to our use of contextual data in admissions. The website also details the range of contextual offers which we will aim to make to exceptional candidates from Widening Access backgrounds.

30 October 2015

FOCUS West: Focus on 4

As part of Strathclyde's commitment to the FOCUS West initiative we welcome over 900 S4 students to the University each year to participate in the Focus on 4 programme. This project aims to boost confidence, as well as offer studying strategies for National examinations, by working in groups on interactive activities withour student mentors.

The 2015/16 term kicked off in August and up until the end of Octboer 350 young people have participated in Focus on 4 so far. This includes schools attending from North and South Lanarkshire, North and East Ayrshire, Glasgow, and Inverclyde.

The team have also visited S4 pupils at Auchenharvie Academy in North Ayrshire and we recently welcomed a group of pupils from Islay High School in Argyll and Bute to the University campus for a day of activities.

Pupils are always encouraged to ask our mentors plenty of questions during the project and we have looked at a variety of subjects including the difference between bursaries and loans, and the importance of highlighting skills and extra-curricular activities within the UCAS Personal Statement.

Further dates are scheduled for November 2015, January 2016, and February 2016.

14 - 18 September 2015

Welcome Week 2015

The Widening Access team is part of the wider Student Experience and Enhancement Services (SEES) directorate at Strathclyde. Each year during Welcome Week, all of the SEES support services work together to ensure the smoothest possible transition for all of our new incoming students.

For Welcome Week 2015 the Widening Access team recruited a team of seven Student Ambassadors, who were primarly based in the James Weir Building. Working with Al and Louise, our Student Ambassadors welcomed new students to the registration hall and answered any queries they had - from 'how do I login to PEGASUS?' and 'where is the nearest bank?', to 'where can I find a quotiation from Isaac Newton painted on a wall?' (we suspect there might have been some sort of scavenger hunt taking place)!

Our Ambassadors were very proactive in escorting lost students around campus to make sure they made their necessary appointments on time, and also distributing SEES booklets which detail the support services which the University has to offer. In addition, Al and Louise supported some parts of faculty inductions; plus Al and Jan occasionally issued some Biometric Residence Permits to our new international students.

Overall the week was a huge success and we hope that all of our new students got off to a brilliant and welcoming start here at Strathclyde. We'd like to say a big thank you to our Student Ambassadors - Anna, Daniel, Danielle, Emilia, Sarah, Zain and Zariq.

8 September 2015

Access to a Career in Teaching (ACT) - UCAS Information Evening

On Tuesday the 8th of September, the University hosted a UCAS Information Evening as part of the Access to a Career in Teaching (ACT) project.

ACT is a collaborative initiative between Glasgow City Council, the University of Glasgow, the University of Strathclyde and the University of the West of Scotland. It aims to support young people in Glasgow to gain entry to teaching careers, and also encourage them to return to teach within their home communities.

Almost 50 pupils from around a dozen local schools attended the UCAS Information Evening, where they took part in a workshop investigating what makes a good UCAS Personal Statment, and also how to effectively write about skills. Additionally, the pupils were provided with personalised 1:1 feedback from university academics on a written assignment they had submitted in advance, and were presented with the opportunity to ask any questions they had about the UCAS process or university in general.

These young poeple will soon be submitting their applications for September 2016 entry to university and on behalf of all of the ACT partners, the Widening Access team at Strathclyde wish them the very best!

22 August 2015

"Finding Your Way" - transition event for incoming students

142 incoming students attended our annual Finding Your Way event, which took place on Saturday the 22nd of August 2015. This event has taken place for a number of years now but was previously only offered to new first year mature students (those who would be aged 21 or over by the time they start their course with use). This year, for the first time we also extended invitations to include direct entrants to later years. We dropped the age criterion for the direct entrants, as we know that many of them are under 21.

The breakdown of attendees was as follows:

Mature student only 81
Direct entrant to later years only 25
Both mature and direct entrant 36
Total 142


Students in attendance heard presenations from staff on a number of key topics, such as: the Library; Study Skills; the Virtual Learning Environment; and Student Finance. Current Strathclyde students were also heavily involved, with 5 Student Ambassadors helping to keep the day running smoothly, as well as presentations from representatives of both the University of Strathclyde Students' Association (USSA) and the Mature Students' Association (MSA).

The event was very positively evaluated by attendees, with the vast majority rating each talk very highly. Here are some comments from this year's attendees:

"Great guys, keep up the good work"

"Made me feel more comfortable about starting uni, thanks"

"All very useful information, thank you"

"Very informative"

 

22 - 26 June 2015; and
27 - 31 July 2015

Accelerate Summer Programme

324 young people from 66 schools across Scotland have attended the Widening Access Team’s Accelerate summer programme which provides senior school pupils with a focus on the academic area they are interested in going on to study at University. 10 subject-specific challenges were available in 2015, representing all four of Strathclyde’s academic faculties:

  • Product Design (Design, Manufacture and Engineering Management)
  • Mini Space Academy (Electronic & Electrical Engineering)
  • Sport & Physical Activity
  • Psychology
  • Business & Enterprise
  • Law
  • Education
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Languages              

As well as allowing pupils to find out more about University courses and careers in their chosen area, the programme challenges pupils to work at a higher level, allowing them to see what University study is like, and sets this learning within engaging contexts, be it making paracetamol in the Chemistry labs, designing apps in the Engineering department or taking part in a formal court case in the Law Challenge. Each Challenge also hosts a careers/industry event on the Wednesday afternoon of the programme, featuring presentations from academics and professionals from the specific subject areas.

Evaluative results show that the 2015 programme had a very positive impact on pupils’ educational aspirations and their confidence to undertake University study. Pupils also developed communication, team-work and leadership skills, as well as improving their confidence in meeting and working cooperatively with other young people from all over Scotland.

“This week was invaluable in terms of providing an insight into University and a career in Law.”

-Law Challenge Participant

 

“It was an amazing and unforgettable experience and it has definitely helped me to become more confident in my abilities and sure of what I would like to do in the future.”

-Languages Challenge Participant

 

“I thought it was extremely interesting and a lot of fun. The activities were great and it taught me things I didn’t know. I enjoyed working in a group with new people and we had a great mentor. It has shown me that I definitely want to study Education at University.”

-Education Challenge Participant

While attracting pupils from a wide variety of backgrounds, Accelerate has a targeted widening access focus on recruiting pupils from more disadvantaged backgrounds and schools with low Higher Education Progression Rates. Approximately 50% of pupils who attended received funded places, including several pupils from a care-experienced background.

Pupils were supported through their challenges by a team of 64 Strathclyde student mentors. Working on the programme allows Strathclyde students to develop a range of employability skills and nine of the mentors received formal accreditation towards their degree course for the work they did on their challenges. Five of the 2015 mentors were previous participants on Accelerate.

“I think the programme is absolutely brilliant and is an asset to young people in bettering their future. It allows student mentors to act on their own initiative and take on an important role. I have learned that I am able to put myself outside my comfort zone and thrive at the opportunity to inspire and motivate others.”

-          Student Mentor, Business Challenge

In addition, the 2015 programme featured 11 Junior Mentors; pupils who had attended the course the previous year and who came back in 2015 to support the student mentors and gain more experience of their subject area and the University environment. We look forward to welcoming many of these Junior Mentors on to degree courses at Strathclyde in September.

“This was a very rewarding experience that I am very grateful for. I have developed my confidence and communication skills and realised that I am capable of taking control of groups if needed. It has exceeded expectations and I enjoyed it just as much as last year.”

-Junior Mentor, Business Challenge

2 June 2015

Support with Graduation Costs for Student Care Leavers

The Widening Access team were successful in securing funding from the Alumni & Development fund to offer help with graduation costs for student care leavers. The team contacted all student care leavers who were due to graduate from the University in July and November 2015, with the offer of financial support. The funding offered was to help cover the costs of the graduation ceremony, transcript, graduation gown, photography package and tickets to the student ball. This allowed the team to join in celebrating the achievements of the graduating student care leavers, and the offer was well received by the students. It also gave the team the opportunity to speak to each student to find out what their plans were post-graduation and if they required any help from the Careers Service, or advice about further study.

Here are some comments from the graduates who received the funding:

"The help I received from the Widening Access team was really indispensable in allowing me to have the memorable graduation day I ended up having. Having to move into a new flat over the summer meant my finances were uncertain, but the support allowed me to have a great day completely stress and risk free. As a care leaver, I received regular contact from the University letting me know that support was available; the graduation support I received at the end was really just an exemplary demonstration of their commitment to people in my situation, and it was much appreciated for my part."

"The money I received greatly helped me with the expense of graduation. It paid for me to attend the graduation ceremony, my gown hire for the ceremony, my ticket to attend the graduation ball and travel to both my graduation ball and graduation ceremony. As I am still looking for employment after achieving my degree, financially it is rather difficult, so the money I received has been a fantastic help to me."

15 May 2015

Social Mobility and Widening Access to Higher Education in Scotland: Policy, Practice and Research

The second annual social mobility in Scotland conference took place in Strathclyde's new Technology and Innovation Centre following an enormously successful inaugural event organised by FOCUS West at the University of Glasgow in March 2014. It was an opportunity for policy makers, researchers and practitioners to come together to share practice and discuss the issues and challenges of access. This is a particularly opportune time to have such a discussion, with the Scottish Government committed to increasing access and the formation of the new Widening Access Commission chaired by Dame Ruth Silver.

Over 110 delegates attended the conference from across Scotland and the rest of the UK with more than 17 different universities, a dozen schools and several colleges represented. NUS Scotland, SHEP partners (Schools for Higher Education Programme), the Scottish Funding Council, the Scottish Qualifications Authority and SWAP (the Scottish Wider Access Programme) were some of the other partners to join discussions. Who Cares? Scotland and Carers Trust Scotland attended alongside students from looked after backgrounds and student young adult carers respectively. Their workshop sessions were an opportunity to have their voices, experiences and needs heard.

Research was ably represented by Dr Edward Sosu, based in the School of Education at Strathclyde. In his well-received keynote presentation, Dr Sosu outlined his and others' research on the attainment gap within Scottish education, dispelling some common myths around aspiration and calling for better data and analysis. This was echoed in the first panel session in which practitioners expressed optimism about the current focus on access, highlighted the impact of contextualised approaches to admissions and argues that a strengthened emphasis on data collection and sharing would aid progress.

In her keynote presentation, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Ms Angela Constance, announced an increase in student bursaries and an increase in the income threshold for maximum bursaries.

Tony Hamilton, Chief Executive of the Celtic FC Foundation explained how the Scottish Premiership Club aim to use football for good through their work on global and local projects, many of which have links to education. In a plenary session chaired by Professor Liz Thomas, the Equality Challenge Unit and collaborating institutions presented on their experiences of participating in diversity projects. The universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, St Andrews and Strathclyde provided insights into their research on university recruitment, admissions and learning and teaching practices and their impact on students and young people with protected characteristics.

The slides for the presentations and workshops which took place during the event are available via the links below:

Abertay and Dundee & Angus College - Breaking Barriers, Dundee Academy of Sport

Carer's Trust - Time to be Heard in Higher Education  

Dr Edward Sosu - Closing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Education

ECU - Understanding Student Underrepresentation

Edinburgh - The Silent and Unseen Helper, Have Carers Been Forgotten?

EMSI - Informing Higher Education Decision Making with LMI

RCS and GSA - Access and Progression to Small, Specialist Institutions

Strathclyde - Children's University, Learning Beyond the Classroom

Who Cares? Scotland - The Who, What and Why of Corporate Parenting        

There are plans for the conference to become an annual event. The next venue will be announced in due course. In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments about the event, please get in touch with the Widening Access Team.