University and school partnerships

10 October 2007

Dr Wendy Piatt, Director of The Russell Group, said:

“John Denham is right to recognise the importance of the work of our universities in forging stronger links with schools in achieving the goal of widening participation in higher education.

“Russell Group universities are constantly improving and accelerating the raft of initiatives they already undertake to widen participation including bursaries, access courses and summer schools. We are particularly determined to help to tackle the root cause of the problem of the under-representation of students from poorer backgrounds at Russell Group institutions - the fact that they do not apply due to low aspirations or most importantly, under-achievement at school. This is why we have focused our efforts on forming close collaborations and on-going relationships with a range of schools and colleges.

“All Russell Group institutions have strong links with schools in deprived areas, enabling thousands of staff and students to tutor and mentor local pupils. These volunteers play a crucial role in not only raising their attainment but also in providing advice and guidance and inspiring role models for children who may not have any family members who have been to university. Many university staff are school governors or teach classes.

“These close links also promote a sharing of knowledge, expertise and direct experience between schools and universities and foster greater understanding of the needs and emerging issues in the school system - on issues such as widening participation, the impact of admissions policies, and transition between school and university. School children often enjoy the use of university facilities like libraries.

“We are also committed to building on the strong relationships we have forged with schools to contribute to the success of the campaign called for in the Sainsbury Review to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching in schools.  This is extremely important because of the considerable decline in the take-up of STEM subjects at GCSE and A-level in the last decade, particularly amongst state school students.”


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