Young people who engaged with local outreach programme nearly three times more likely to attend university

Young people who engaged with Higher Horizons+ over the past three years were nearly three times more likely to progress to university than their peers, new data shows.

Higher Horizons+, led by Keele University and part of the government-funded Uni Connect programme, is a partnership of local universities and colleges which encourages young people from underrepresented groups across Staffordshire, Cheshire and Shropshire to achieve their potential by entering higher education and enrolling on university courses.

New research undertaken by Higher Horizons+, East Midlands Widening Participation Research, and UCAS STROBE, has tracked the educational outcomes of 1,400 young people who engaged with Higher Horizons+ and revealed that 50.5% of those that participated with the programme had applied to university in 2018 or 2019, with a year-on-year increase in the numbers opting for higher education. This is in contrast to the regional average progression rate of just 18%.

The outcomes of a further 3,300 students from the local area were tracked and indicate that young people from both groups are more likely to progress to local universities than non-local, with over 300 learners accepting a place to study at Keele University and a further 300 at Staffordshire University.

Higher Horizons+ works with local schools and colleges to provide a sustained programme of activities which improve young people’s knowledge of pathways to university, provide experiences of university campuses, support curriculum learning and attainment, boost employability and transferrable skills, and improve their confidence and wellbeing.

Ant Sutcliffe, Head of Higher Horizons, recently awarded Widening Access Practitioner of the Year at the 2020 NEON Awards, said: “We are delighted for the first time to have hard evidence about the young people who have taken part in our programme, and how many have progressed to university.

“We know that the best way to support young people to achieve their goals is to provide them with impartial information, advice and guidance over time to enable them to make informed decisions about where they want to go. We are delighted that so many of our young people have opted for university when so many in their locality don’t.”