More young people will be encouraged to study at university thanks to new government funding which has been secured by Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln.

Today (Thursday 8th January) the university was promised £24,000 over two years to support its collaborative work with other universities and colleges to widen participation in higher education. The money will be used to extend and increase BGU’s widening participation activities across the region and enable the university to engage with pupils from more schools.

BGU is involved in three networks which work to improve access to higher education to young people from all backgrounds.

“This new funding of £24,470 from HEFCE (the Higher Education Funding Council for England) will provide a great boost to our widening participation activities,” said Karen Richardson, Head of Student Recruitment and Admissions at BGU. “Hopefully we will be able to reintroduce summer schools and help to raise the aspirations of students who would not otherwise think that studying at university was for them.”

Lincolnshire is characterised by comparatively high attainment at GCSE but low levels of participation in higher education – only 32% of 18-year-olds go on to higher education courses at university or college compared to the national average of 38%. *

BGU’s widening participation activities target people from disadvantaged socio-economic areas, people with no history of higher education in their family, black and minority ethnic groups, males (for teacher training courses) and mature students.

The university currently runs two access to HE programmes: First Steps 2 Study and Next Steps 4 Study.

First Steps 2 Study is aimed at Year 9,10 and 11 pupils and involves a student ambassador from BGU, campus visits and a visit to the school, while Next Steps 4 Study targets Year 12 and 13 pupils who take part in debates, workshops, seminars and presentations both at school and at the university.

BGU is a member of three networks involved in widening participation: the North East Midlands Collaborative Outreach Network, the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers, and Magna Carta – Education for Liberty (which is led by the University of Lincoln).

Other partners in the Magna Carta – Education for Liberty network include Lincoln College, Boston College, North Lindsey College, Grimsby Institute and Grantham College.

Partners in the North East Midlands Collaborative Outreach Network include BGU, the University of Nottingham, the University of Derby, Nottingham Trent University, West Nottinghamshire College, Central College Nottingham, Loughborough College and Stephenson College in Coalville and Nottingham.

The funding announced today is part of a new £22 million national scheme involving 226 higher education institutions and reaching 4,300 secondary schools and colleges.

The National Networks for Collaborative Outreach (NNCO) will deliver a nationally co-ordinated approach to working with schools, universities and colleges to help people access higher education.

Greg Clark, Minister for Universities and Science, commented: “A record number of students entered higher education in 2014, with entry rates for students from disadvantaged backgrounds increasing by over 10% to its highest ever level.

“However there is still more work to do to ensure all students who want to study hard can benefit, irrespective of their background.”

* Latest HEFCE statistics for 2011/12.

8th January 2015