The Universities of Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Northampton have celebrated another successful instalment of their collaborative Aspire Higher project.
Funded by the Office for Students: Uni Connect programme, the ‘Back to Your Future’ event took place on 11th November for year 12 and 13 students to tune into after school. The aim of the event was to help pupils think about their post-18 options, with a focus on higher education.
Over 250 students registered to join the Aspire Higher event from 89 institutions across the UK, including schools and colleges in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire, London Boroughs, Telford, Brent, Powys, Milton Keynes, Brighton, Oxfordshire, Birmingham and East Riding.
Paula Page, Collaborative Outreach Project Manager with the University of Bedfordshire’s Centre for Academic Partnerships, said: “The second in our series of live virtual events was a huge success! We are very fortunate to be working with our colleagues at the University of Hertfordshire and University of Northampton as part of the Aspire Higher project – events like these evidence the success of the Uni Connect programme on both a local and national scale.
“We have really formed a successful brand with Aspire Higher and have a number of other live events scheduled in 2021 which will support all the excellent work that the teams are doing with our local schools and colleges.”
After opening with a welcome message from Professor Helen Barefoot, Deputy Director of Learning and Teaching at University of Hertfordshire, Alexis McLeod – SEMLEP Enterprise Co-ordinator – presented a segment which looked at ways pupils can explore pathways after year 13, considering what’s right for them, what options are available and where to go next.
A group of undergraduates, apprentices and college students then took part in a panel, discussing their experiences and taking questions as part of an interactive Q&A session. Student representing the University of Bedfordshire included Katrina Down, Emma Hunter Alfie O’Sullivan and Fithawi Tiumzgi.
Third year Sport and Physical Education student panellist, Katrina Down, said: “I believe the event was very well organised, beneficial and informative for the audience it was aimed at. The event covered the important areas of post-18 options and higher education, and every question asked was answered by two or more members of staff or university students.
“I felt it was important for me to take part as some questions asked were aimed at real life university students – by offering my input, I feel I helped prospective students decide on their future choices after college or sixth form.”
Following the student panel, Tina Patel from National Apprenticeship Service and Ahmar Ehsan from Student Finance England shared information about the GovUK platforms and answered questions from the viewers.
A number of regional educational representatives also gave insightful presentations, including:
Throughout the event an online chat function was accepting queries from viewers. Question topics included apprenticeship applications, advice on choosing the right course, accommodation and living costs, how to balance university/social/work life, foundation courses and university societies and clubs.
Following the event, the Aspire Higher team received lots of positive comments, including:
The event made me feel a more motivated for the future and to think beyond the present challenges.
Some of the student panellists were very relatable which is reassuring.
I enjoyed chatting to the apprentices. They were such enthusiastic young people with a real passion for the route they've chosen.
The Q&A with the undergraduate students was very informative and it sounded like they really enjoyed university life.
Practical questions gave a 'real' insight into student issues, such as leaving home, settling in at university and being savvy about using volunteering as a way to get some great experience for future job prospects.
The Student Finance presentation was really helpful – very concise and clear.
I really enjoyed the employability section – it was very practical which made me think about how my hobbies, jobs and volunteering can help me make a decision about what I want to do.
I've come away from this event with lots of knowledge about options I didn't realise I had before – I feel even more confident in pursuing an apprenticeship and now I know what I can do to boost my application!
Advice videos and animations from Aspire Higher’s latest event can be explored and watched again online: https://aspire-higher.co.uk/back-to-your-future
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