Universify Education

Opening access to education

A university education should be available to anyone with the academic ability – regardless of their background. But young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are often put off applying. When they do, they tend to go for universities or courses that are lower demand and lower quality than they are capable of, rather than the highly selective universities. One reason is they’re worried they’ll feel out of place when they get there. Universify Education is changing attitudes and preconceptions. The charity wants universities to enjoy the benefits of greater diversity while empowering students from non-traditional backgrounds to feel excited by their future in education.

  • Universify identified three barriers to students from non-traditional backgrounds applying for highly selective universities: low educational aspiration, limited academic attainment, and fear of being out of place.
  • 92% of teachers reported that engaging in Universify’s programme benefitted student attainment.
  • Following the programme, there was a 67% increase in students “very likely” to apply to a highly-selective university.

An insight into higher education

They run a year-long programme with three key elements:

1. A week-long summer course at the University of Oxford giving students a taste of university life and helping them feel more comfortable in a university environment. There are a range of academic classes offering an insight into higher education.

2. Monthly academic coaching – one-to-one session with trained Universify coaches to help students set out their academic goals and work out how they can achieve them.

3. A three-day GCSE-focused Easter residential at Oxford to focus on core subjects (maths, English and sciences) in preparation for their upcoming GCSEs. Participants also get information about follow-on programmes and potential careers.

Our £8,000 grant helped support 79 students at risk of not fulfilling their potential in education to take part in the Universify programme.

“This programme is helping to change young people’s perceptions of university. Universify Education’s research showed that students replaced ideas of university as ‘busy’ and ‘stressful’, with the idea that it was a place of ‘independence’ and ‘learning’. But it’s not just potential students that benefit. There’s so much for universities to gain from having the input of young people from diverse backgrounds involved in their student community.” Soma, Kusuma Trust’s Executive Trustee

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