Page last updated at 00:32 GMT, Friday, 4 April 2008 01:32 UK

Pupils to get university mentors

Graduate
Mentors will encourage pupils to pursue a university course

Secondary school pupils are to be mentored by university students to encourage them to continue their education to degree level.

Universities Secretary John Denham is to unveil the 21m Aimhigher Associates mentoring scheme.

More than 5,000 university students will be recruited to provide support to 21,000 school pupils from 14 onwards.

It builds on a government commitment to ensure every secondary school has a higher education partnership.

Universities are being encouraged to develop greater links with state schools and the Aimhigher initiative is an extension of this.

The scheme will support the building of long-term relationships between university students and school and college pupils before they take their GCSEs.

It is hoped such relationships will develop over time with mentors on hand to provide support and guidance to pupils as they make important decisions about their education.

They joked that their only career options were working in McDonald's or dealing drugs
Mentor Holly Clarke's experience of pupils' aspirations

Universities Secretary John Denham said: "This initiative will build on the strong links many universities already have with schools and colleges, while offering new opportunities for pupils to take advantage of one-to-one advice from students who have recently been through the process of choosing and applying for a university place themselves.

"We want to unlock the talents of all of our young people. Building long-term relationships between our schools and universities is key to making sure that all those approaching school leaving age are able to make informed decisions about their futures and fully understand the opportunities and benefits higher education courses and institutions have to offer."

Breaking down barriers

The government aims to get 50% of those aged between 18 and 30 into higher education by 2010.

The Higher Education and Funding Council for England (Hefce) is working with the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) to develop the Aimhigher initiative.

Hefce director of education and participation John Selby said: "The Aimhigher programme delivers a broad range of targeted activities to help break down the barriers of disadvantage that can prevent pupils from non-traditional backgrounds from progressing to higher education. This will be a significant new element.

"Aimhigher Associates will receive special training and schools will receive support to carry out this important role. Crucially, the Associates will come from a similar school background to their mentees, putting them in an ideal position to advise their younger counterparts on the opportunities available to them."

It is hoped that by September 2009, around 45 Aimhigher partnerships will exist with at least 100 higher education institutions and 500 schools/colleges involved.

This would mean 5,500 Aimhigher Associates working with 21,600 learner beneficiaries.




SEE ALSO
Call for more university links
10 Oct 07 |  Education
Old school 'key to student place'
20 Sep 07 |  Education
University-school link-ups urged
14 Sep 07 |  Education
More state pupils in universities
19 Jul 07 |  Education
Universities 'must target poor'
29 Nov 06 |  Education

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