UWE Bristol sees strong uplift in the proportion of 'First in Family' students

Issue date: 02 February 2017

In a boost to social mobility, the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) has seen an increase in the proportion of students who come from families with no previous experience of higher education in the last 4 years. Data published today from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) shows the proportion of students from low participating neighbourhoods entering the University has increased from 11.5% to 14.6%. This exceeds the current 11.3% university average and the 12.3% funding council benchmark.

The higher proportion means that now 580 students out of about 4,000 new entrants to the university are from families with no previous experience of higher education. The University has the 13th largest intake in England.

The proportion from state schools has also increased from 91.3% to 93.8%, again exceeding the university average of 90.1% and funding council benchmark of 93.6%.

The increase comes as a result of initiatives aimed at inclusivity and equality of opportunity with a £15.6m investment to reach out and support students who are still missing out on higher education because of their background.

UWE Bristol has one of the largest investments in the country in widening participation. The University has worked for many years in partnership with the region's schools and colleges to support young people's progress to higher education regardless of their background. Its work also focuses on the support the University provides to ensure that all UWE Bristol students are appropriately supported, to achieve their qualifications and obtain graduate level employment when they graduate.

Current figures also show that students from low participating neighbourhoods at UWE Bristol achieve very good graduate outcomes similar to all students, thanks to interventions like paid placements, global opportunities, employer connections and other support.

The £15.6 million access and outreach activity in the University's Access Agreement includes: extensive low income bursaries, childcare bursaries and carers and care leavers bursaries. Students who are eligible in the first year generally receive an automatic bursary in the second and subsequent years of study.

The University is also continuing to fund successful and new initiatives that support all stages of the student lifecycle. Examples include:

The West of England Children's University is just one of the many initiatives run by UWE Bristol, working with local partners and schools to help inspire young people to progress to further and higher education. The Children's UniversityTM programme aims to take education beyond the confines of the classroom, engaging with children aged five to 14 and their families through a range of out of school hours activities.

Children's' University achievement is rewarded in a graduation ceremony at Bristol Cathedral. This year 200 children from 16 schools across Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset donned robes and mortarboards to celebrate their achievements with families and teachers.

Lecture Capture - UWE Bristol is increasing its investment to ensure that all of the University's teaching spaces have lecture capture capability, which allows sessions to be recorded and made available digitally. This will support disabled students, and those with additional responsibilities who find it harder to attend campus regularly to access lectures.

Employability and enterprise

Continued investment of £870,000 in employability and enterprise measures including paid internships, career mentoring, developing career management skills and work experience will enhance UWE Bristol's strong record in enabling high levels of employability in graduate level jobs.

Jo Midgley, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Student Experience says, “At UWE Bristol we believe that everyone who has a desire to learn and to develop the higher skills they need to enjoy successful careers and futures, should be given the inspiration, confidence and practical support and advice to fulfil that ambition. We still have a big challenge in Bristol with progression to higher education in Filwood in South Bristol as low as 5% compared to over 90% in Clifton in North Bristol. This is reflected in youth unemployment figures compared to the outstanding employment opportunities open to those with higher skills emerging from UWE Bristol.

“Our £15.6m investment underlines our commitment and is aligned with the challenges that under-represented groups face. We are confident that the range of bursaries, established successful projects and new initiatives will open doors to education and support students throughout their journey.”

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