New education outreach programme launched

L-R: Keeley Evans (student), Mrs Michelle Riley (teacher) and Sophie Flynn (student) at All Saints Catholic High School

The Office for Students (OfS) has officially launched its programme of national education outreach support called Uni Connect today at the House of Commons.

Uni Connect will build on existing partnerships regionally, to help over 1,600 schools and colleges England offer impartial advice, guidance and activities to over 180,000 young people and their parents or carers. Currently, 29 different regions across England have a Uni Connect hub and we are proud partners of the Liverpool City Region hub, Shaping Futures.

The programme was launched at a special event which saw the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, the Rt Hon Chris Skidmore MP, Sir Michael Barber, and Chair of the Office for Students, Sir Michael Barber and Director for Fair Access and Participation, Chris Millward meet representatives from the programme, including young learners.

As part of the programme new outreach hubs have been established to help teachers and advisers find impartial information about the outreach activity available in their local area. The hubs will also support further collaboration between Higher Education (HE) providers, to work together to better support those students that are least likely to access HE.

30,000 students

Shaping Futures, our local Uni Connect partnership, is a consortia of 12 local HE providers and is hosted by the University of Liverpool. Since its inception in 2017, it has worked with almost 30,000 students from across the Liverpool City Region.  The partnership currently focuses on 43 priority schools across the region and identifies ‘target’ learners, based on their home postcode.

The launch of Uni Connect will help promote the growth of Shaping Futures’ work with students, as it will broaden the schools it offers impartial guidance to and strengthen its relationship with all partners and other external organisations working to support young people to access HE in the region.

Effective and impactful

Professor Gavin Brown, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, University of Liverpool, said: “We look forward to continuing to work with all our partners to support young people to make well-informed decisions about their future education.

“This is a great example of growing effective and impactful local collaboration by higher education providers, working together with schools, colleges, employers and other partners to support local young people.”

Case studies

As part of the official launch a number of case studies from students and teachers involved in the Shaping Futures programme were presented to highlight the effectiveness of outreach programmes.

Here are excerpts from the case studies of two Year 13 students and a teacher from All Saints Catholic High School in Knowsley, Merseyside.

Keeley Evans (student): “By receiving help from Shaping Futures, it has allowed me to see what universities are on offer and why studying in Liverpool is a good choice.

“This programme was effective because it has helped me receive interviews for my chosen course so this shows that this programme benefits students like me.”

Sophie Flynn (student): “By receiving ongoing help and support from our personal Shaping Futures adviser it allowed me to understand what universities and courses were available to me. This experience gave me a better understanding on what I needed to achieve in order for me to be successful throughout my UCAS application.”

Mrs Michelle Riley (teacher): “As a result of the support from shaping futures, I believe students have been inspired to consider HE as a future option.  They are much more informed of the choices, options and pathways.”

The HE providers which form Uni Connect in LCR are Carmel College, Edge Hill University, Hugh Baird College, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool John Moores University, The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, The University of Chester, The City of Liverpool College, The University of Liverpool, Riverside College, University Centre St Helens and Wirral Metropolitan College.

More information about Shaping Futures can be found here: