Year on year we are seeing more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve places at university. Yet progress in closing the attainment gap has been slow with research predicting that it will remain for another 500 years if it continues to narrow at the same rate. For many young people from disadvantaged backgrounds their results don’t reflect their full potential.
For young people on The Access Project programme, A-Level results day is a culmination of each of our students hard work, their volunteer tutor’s dedication and the in-school support we give to help them secure offers. Our students face many barriers to reaching this stage in their education and results day is that final hurdle they have to cross.
What are the barriers to higher education, and how can our students overcome them?
Students from low income backgrounds face significant barriers to accessing higher education. A lack of awareness about the opportunities available to them and the benefits of going to university means that young people from disadvantaged communities often decide that university ‘just isn’t for me’. Teachers don’t always have as much time as they’d like to guide them through their applications and draw out their strengths. This results in students feeling confused about the university application process and what they would like to study.
One-to-one tutoring gives our students an opportunity to discover their strengths and interests. It also gives them a valuable insight into the working world and the importance of university in accessing a variety of professions. As a University Access Officer, it has been a pleasure to watch our young peoples’ ambitions grow into tangible futures. Our in-school mentoring gives each student a champion helping to find the course for them, guiding them through the application process and work experience opportunities.
Results day is a celebration of how far our students have come.
Results day is the final hurdle for these dreams to become realities. With this amount of pressure it can be a cause for anxiety. Despite this, our students channel this worry into positive energy. Alex, who hopes to study English Literature at Queen Mary University of London, sees results day as the beginning of her future. “At the start of year 13 I was not so confident in myself and I wasn’t sure I could push myself, but I did and I became part of The Access Project which changed my academic experience for the better. Instead of dreading results day, I am confident I achieved to the best of my ability.”
For our students, results day is important on many levels. It is the culmination of hours of commitment and hard work. It’s the celebration of the resilience and determination they have shown in the process. But most importantly, it is the beginning of a bright future. There is still a long way to go until someone’s progression to university will no longer be affected by their parent’s income, but this results day we will be celebrating alongside our students and sharing their stories.