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.
Hartpury College, Gloucestershire College, the Royal Agricultural University and South Gloucestershire and Stroud College will join forces with the University of Gloucestershire to form a network that will ensure comprehensive coverage throughout Gloucestershire.
The Gloucestershire network will receive over £250,000 spread across 2 years (academic years 2014-15 and 2015-16) and will be one of thirty five local networks to cover the whole of England. The partnership will provide as a single point of contact to help teachers and advisers find out about higher education outreach activity in their area and to provide general advice about progression into higher education.
This announcement will allow the partnership to provide much needed progressive programmes of outreach, reaching younger audiences in a more sustained way, as well as designing electronic resources and other innovative learning aids.
Each local network will host a website with information about outreach activity, and signpost other information to support schools and colleges as they prepare their students for higher education. This programme will ensure that schools and colleges can help students learn about higher education in the classroom, online and through local outreach activity.
Stephen Marston, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Gloucestershire, said: "We are very pleased to receive this news from HEFCE. We firmly believe that creating a local network for outreach that covers Gloucestershire with our partners will further build on the valuable work that we already do.
“It is tremendously important that young people in Gloucestershire have the correct information about progression into higher education. We aim to educate, advise and inspire students to consider higher education, especially for those who may not have previously considered it an option.
“Working with our partners, Hartpury College, Gloucestershire College, the Royal Agricultural University and South Gloucestershire and Stroud College will help us provide more comprehensive coverage throughout the county, supporting schools, colleges and local groups in promoting progression into higher education.”
Matt Birch, Associate Dean from Hartpury College, said: “Hartpury College is delighted to be working in partnership with the University of Gloucestershire to help more young people in the county access higher education.”
Peter White, from Gloucestershire College, said: “We are looking forward to further developing our close links with the university and ensuring that students in Gloucestershire get to know the right information to help them make informed decisions about entering higher education.”
Gail Young, from Royal Agricultural University, said: “We are very happy to hear the news from HEFCE and we are looking forward to working even more closely with the University of Gloucestershire and local colleges on development and promotion of a wide range of initiatives that aim to encourage more young people into higher education.”
Kevin Hamblin, Principal at South Gloucestershire and Stroud College, said: “As Strategic Alliance partners with the University of Gloucestershire we already have a strong relationship that we hope will flourish as we join up to deliver outreach in the county.”
Greg Clark, Minister for Universities and Science, welcomed the networks, saying: “Higher education is a transformational experience and the future of the UK economy depends on having highly-trained graduates so it is vital that young people have the right information about progressing into higher education. This programme will ensure that schools and colleges across England can help their students learn about higher education in the classroom, online and through local outreach activity.
“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."
Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said: “We have been impressed by the higher education sector’s response to this scheme, which means that vital information about how to progress into higher education will be available to people across England. We set out to establish coverage of state-funded secondary schools and sixth form colleges and, through the support of the sector, this will be achieved.
“As well as providing co-ordinated coverage of outreach activity, we are keen that the NNCO scheme contributes innovative approaches to the interaction between higher education institutions and schools and colleges. We will be evaluating the scheme to ensure that innovation can be shared amongst networks and quickly benefit schools and colleges and the students they support.”
The networks are funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and managed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), whose main role is to allocate funding from the Government to universities and colleges.