Scheme launched to attract talented North East students
(18 November 2009)
Talented North East schoolchildren who demonstrate the ability to progress onto degree courses at Durham University will be offered the chance to fulfil their potential with the launch of a new scheme.
The Supported Progression Programme aims to identify and assist sixth form students and secondary school pupils with the merit and potential to meet Durham’s high academic standards. The scheme will be piloted among Year 12 sixth-form students across County Durham from January 2010 and could be extended to include Year 10 and 11 pupils from County Durham and Year 10, 11, and 12 pupils from Teesside in 2010/2011. Candidates will be selected based on criteria that include prior academic achievement, evidence of motivation and socio-economic background. These criteria will identify those students who can most benefit from the exciting opportunities that the programme will bring. A package of academic and financial support, as well as admissions guidance, will be offered to those who successfully complete the rigorous new programme. The students will take part in a two-year structured programme of events including an assessed residential summer school in Year 12 to identify their suitability for a place at Durham. Successful candidates will receive the Supported Progression Qualification, which counts as 40 to 60 UCAS tariff points towards meeting Durham’s standard entry requirements, along with a guaranteed offer of a place if the student applies to the department they achieve the qualification with. Those who ultimately receive a place at Durham via the scheme will have successfully completed the Supported Progression Programme and will also have applied via the traditional UCAS route, meeting the grades required of them by the University. A bursary of up to £2,000-a-year towards university costs will be available to those who progress onto a degree course. Overall 36 undergraduate places will be offered under the scheme, which accounts for one per cent of Durham’s annual undergraduate intake. Departments taking part in the programme are: Anthropology; Biological Sciences; Business, Finance and Economics; Criminology; Earth Sciences; Geography; Law; Modern Languages; Physics; Politics; Psychology (Applied); Sociology; Sport; and Theology. Supported Progression will complement Durham’s existing outreach work including that of the Access and Student Recruitment Team and The Foundation Centre, which runs one of the most successful access courses in the country for students who have taken a break from education and want to study at university level. Areas of County Durham and Teesside have some of the lowest higher education participation rates in the country. Market research also shows that many of the region’s pupils with academic ability lack the confidence to apply to top universities like Durham. Durham’s Supported Progression Programme is targeted at just such students, offering support to overcome this barrier. Professor Anthony Forster, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching), at Durham University, said: “We know that many young people have the ability to succeed at Durham, but they lack the confidence or aspiration to apply here. “This scheme provides an effective means of identifying and assessing their merit and potential from a young age so that these students can benefit from the first-class research-led teaching and distinctive student experience we offer. “Durham is committed to recruiting the brightest and best students irrespective of background. “The programme will not lower our entry standards and all those who successfully gain a place will have demonstrated a level of ability equivalent to our standard offer through a combination of successfully completing our Supported Progression Programme and our required A Level or equivalent offer. “We are delighted with feedback from sixth form heads who have warmly welcomed this scheme and information evenings are now being held for parents and pupils.” Applications and selection for the scheme will take place until next month (December) ahead of January’s pilot launch. The first assessed summer school will take place in July and successful students will apply to Durham in autumn 2010. The first intake of students to degree courses via the programme will be in the autumn of 2011. For more information on the Durham Supported Progression Programme please visit www.dur.ac.uk/supported.progression CASE STUDY – Alan Sanders: Durham “is a great University” Alan Sanders, from Ouston, in County Durham, is the first member of his family to go to university. A former pupil at The Hermitage School, in Chester-le-Street, he went on to study at nearby Park View Community School Sixth Form where he gained five-and-a-half A-levels at A-grade. Wanting to study physics he applied to the top six ranked UK universities for the subject and was offered a place at Durham University. Alan, 20, is now in the third-year of a four-year physics degree and is a member of Collingwood College, part of the University’s unique collegiate system offering students a wide-range of activities, facilities and pastoral support. He said: “One of the best things is the collegiate system. The support is there if you need it, it’s sociable and if you’re into sports you get the benefits through the college leagues. “I have been involved in the rowing club, the football club and I’ve just signed up for badminton. I was also the college’s music room officer in the second year of my course.” A recent Durham University careers fair has led Alan to consider a career in either the Ministry of Defence or medical research and he believes his experiences at Durham will help him stand out when it comes to getting a job. He added: “It’s a great University, it’s very highly ranked and employers think that Durham graduates are among the best. “If you have the chance and the ability to apply here then you should go for it.” CASE STUDY – Dr Jay Walker: Durham University “changed my life” Dr Jay Walker left school at 16 with no qualifications other than a swimming certificate. “And that doesn’t get you very far – about 10 metres,” he said. He spent seven years in the Army with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers before deciding he wanted to embark upon a career in medicine. Now the former Stockton-on-Tees schoolboy is a Senior House Officer training to be a plastic surgeon in the NHS thanks to the support of Durham University. Jay, 33, admitted that the prospect of entering higher education was daunting and he worried that his background might be a barrier to becoming a doctor. But after enrolling on an access course at Durham University’s Foundation Centre, he realised he could achieve his goals. The Foundation Centre, based at Durham’s Queen’s Campus, in Stockton, provided him with the support, skills and knowledge needed to embark on an undergraduate medical degree course. Jay, a married father-of-two, from Bearpark, in County Durham, was also the Mature Students’ Officer at Queen’s, helping to organise social events for other students. He completed a two-year diploma in Medical Sciences at Durham before finishing his training at Newcastle University where he graduated as a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS). He said: “Durham University changed my life unbelievably and it can do that for anyone who is looking for a first-class education and a good time. “The University gave me the opportunity to be whoever I wanted to be as long as I was prepared to do the work and meet the standards expected of me. “It opens you up to new opportunities and shows you what you can achieve if you put the work in. “I got all the support I needed to get me started in medicine and I will always think of Durham as home.” MEDIA COVERAGE INCLUDES: