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Monday, 4 June, 2001, 23:22 GMT 00:22 UK
Summer schools 'need more cash'
Summer school
Universities say summer schools have been a huge success
Universities are demanding more government cash to help widen access to their summer schools programme.

Summer schools are designed to give extra help and tuition to primary and secondary school pupils during the summer holidays.

These schemes are vital - we need to change the profile of those going to university and this is an excellent way of doing so

Sue Pester, Aberystwyth University
Some schemes are targeted specifically at bright children, those from disadvantaged backgrounds or those from ethnic minority groups.

Some education experts, though, have questioned the benefits of extra tuition with suggestions that children need a break to refresh their appetite for learning.

But university chiefs say the success of summer schools has made them a mainstream activity, with most institutions offering 450 places, some as many as 1,000.


Chief Executive of Universities UK, Diana Warwick, said such initiatives were no longer a marginal activity, but mainstream university work.

"Our universities are putting great energy into widening participation initiatives, like summer schools, which raise the aspirations of many young people who might not have believed they could make it into higher education," she said.

But these initiatives required more funding in the future, she argued.

"It's time that further funds for widening participation initiatives were available universally across the higher education sector.

"These should be incorporated into core funding so that universities can plan and develop their widening participation programmes even more ambitiously," she said.

'Life-changing experience'

Dr Sue Pester, life-long learning officer at the University of Aberystwyth, supports the need for further funding.

In conjunction with Lampeter University, Aberystwyth runs a six-week residential summer course for 17 year olds from "non-traditional" backgrounds who are underachieving academically.

The aim is to get them interested in pursuing a university career.

"It provides children with an opportunity to raise their skills levels, so they can get into university.

"For a lot of the youngsters it's a life-changing experience," Dr Pester said.

But, with the cost of the course totalling 1,200 per student, and with funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales due to end this year, the scheme needs further support.

"We are desperate to find continued funding for the scheme," she said.

"These schemes are vital - most of the summer schools I know about are all about widening participation in higher education.

"We need to change the profile of those going to university and this is an excellent way of doing so, " Dr Pester said.

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09 Jun 98 | Education
School's in for summer
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