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In January 2020, the Office for Students (OfS) launched the Uni Connect Programme, a national initiative helping teachers and careers advisers to encourage young people to take advantage of the opportunities in Higher Education.

Funded by the OfS, the Uni Connect Programme aims to boost higher education participation rates in the most disadvantaged areas in England. The Uni Connect Programme consists of 29 partnerships of universities, colleges and other local partners across England. It builds upon, and extends the work of the OfS funded National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP) which we have been delivering since 2017 reaching some 10,000 young people across Sussex. Our well established SLN:COP programme continues to run across the region but is now re-branded under the Uni Connect banner.

This free, government-funded service works with state-funded secondary schools, colleges and universities as well as local authorities, charities and enterprise partnerships. Uni Connect supports the Gatsby benchmarks through a tailored and impartial approach, aiding schools to support students, their parents and carers to get a better understanding of their future options.

The overall Uni Connect Programme aims are to:

  • Reduce the gap in higher education participation between the most and least represented groups​ through sustained and progressive outreach programmes
  • Support young people to make well-informed decisions about their future education​
  • Support effective and impactful local collaboration by providers working together with schools, colleges, employers and other partners​
  • Develop sustainable infrastructure for future outreach and collaboration
  • Contribute to a stronger evidence base around ‘what works’ in higher education outreach and strengthen evaluation practice in the sector

We currently work across 39 wards in Sussex and Uni Connect will allow us to extend our reach, developing new collaborative programmes that will help even more young people access outreach activities as well as supporting education practitioners by signposting to existing opportunities.