Students from across Bedfordshire will benefit from the establishment of a network to encourage more young people into higher education.
The Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Network for Collaborative Outreach has been successful in securing funding from a new £22m scheme funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The network is based on a longstanding partnership between the University of Bedfordshire, Barnfield College, Bedford College, Central Bedfordshire College and Milton Keynes College.
Steve Kendall, Associate Dean, Widening Participation at the University said: “We were delighted to hear our bid for funding had been successful. To be just one of 35 local networks covering the whole of England is great for local students.
“This service is vital if all young people are to have an equal chance of going to university,” said Mr Kendall.
“While the numbers of students from disadvantaged backgrounds have increased, there is still more work to be done to ensure all students who want to study hard can benefit, irrespective of their background.”
The network aims to reach all secondary schools and colleges in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes. It will provide a single point of contact to help teachers and advisors find out about higher education outreach activity in the area and provide general advice about progression into higher education.
The network, will receive almost £300,000 in funding over the next two years. As well as working with local schools and colleges it will also work with local authorities and business organisations to develop initiatives directed at employability.
Bill Rammell, Vice Chancellor of the University said: “Widening access to higher education – making sure that everyone has an equal chance of going to university, whatever their personal circumstances - has always been a primary aim of the University.”
“We are thrilled to be able to take the lead in developing this local network to help young people access higher education.”
Greg Clark, Minister for Universities and Science, welcomed the National Networks for Collaborative Outreach (NNCO), 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. “