The Uni Connect programme is a national
outreach initiative that supports young people
who are likely to achieve the grades needed
for higher education but are unlikely to go. To
justify spending, it considers ‘what works’ –
this means tracking learners to see where they
end up, and evaluating activities to assess
Our unique ways of working can be seen as inconvenient and demanding. We hear you! But let us explain...
Tracking the learners we work with means
collecting data about them. This isn’t as scary
as it sounds – put simply, we want to see if
our activities influence their future educational
We request registers of attendance because we need proof of our work; and learners and parents are asked about their background when we add them to tracking databases.
We understand that this causes sleepless nights for your school data protection lead, but each Uni Connect partnership has its own data protection lead too, trained in the latest data policy and legislation, backed up by a university Data Protection Officer. Our data requests are not opportunistic or ad hoc; we have got your back.
Then there’s the mean targeting. We want to
widen participation, don’t we? Why not do it for
everyone? Well, because resources are few we
More importantly, we have been charged with narrowing the gap between the most and least privileged entering higher education. It would be far meaner of us to help those who don’t need it over the wall, while just teasing those at the bottom of the ladder with a few rungs.
‘Widening’ Participation is the name of the sector, but ‘narrowing’ the gap is the name of the game. This is why we target.
And then we are constantly asking Johnny how
he feels about each activity and about higher
education. We need to show that activities
meet a standard, and have ‘impact’ with
learners undergoing ‘shifts’ in their attitudes
towards higher education.
‘What works’ must be tested and replicated. Outreach is not always about converting forlorn youth from a state of Dickensian despair to that of climbing every aspirational mountain; it is more nuanced, and we need data to understand it fully. Besides ‘conversion’, it is about consolidation – ensuring that those interested in higher education are not lost to the forces of disillusion and misinformation; and about contemplation - getting young people to consider higher education and scrutinise their futures.
Your outreach practitioner only asks of you what is being demanded of them. We know that our requirements place a burden on you but be kind to your outreach practitioner; if they can’t track the learners they engage and evaluate the impact of activities, the days of impartial university outreach are numbered.
This free newsletter will include information on university events added to UniTasterDays, as well as details about new webinars and blog releases for you and your students.
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