Aspire Higher

What is Uni Connect?

The Office for Students (OfS) Uni Connect programme brings together 29 partnerships of universities, colleges and other local partners to deliver outreach programmes to young people in years 9 to 13. Their work is focused on local areas where higher education participation is lower than might be expected given the GCSE results of the young people who live there.

The Aspire Higher Programme is a Uni Connect partnership between the Universities of Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Northampton. We connect local schools and colleges with universities and employers, helping you to access opportunities for your learners. We also run targeted outreach activity with local schools to support you in giving learners exposure to HE experiences and in meeting the Gatsby benchmarks.

Programme Phases

Uni Connect has had two phases:


Phase one of the programme started in January 2017 and ran until July 2019. It aimed to support the government’s social mobility goals by rapidly increasing the number of young people from underrepresented groups who go into higher education.


Phase two started on 1 August 2019 and is due to finish in July 2021. Building on phase one, it supports two main strands of activity:

  • Targeted higher education outreach within the local areas where we can have the most impact.
  • Online Outreach hubs within the 29 local partnerships with cross-England coverage to help schools and colleges access the higher education outreach they need and provide a platform for wider collaboration. Aspire Higher is one of these local Outreach hubs.

Methods of Delivery

Aspire Higher activity is delivered physically in schools and colleges, as well as through a ever-growing range of online resources: