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New roadshow to advertise HE


Lifelong Learning and Higher Education Minister Margaret Hodge launched a nationwide roadshow, AimHigher, to highlight the advantages of higher education today. Aimhigher is a three year campaign providing information to young people aged 13-19, aimed at young people and their families with no tradition of entering higher education. The campaign will also provide information about the financial support available as well as piloting new forms of extra financial help for bright young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The campaign is sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Ministers also called for the best performing institutions to make reaching out to young people from low income families an integral part of their admissions process, as happens with the Ivy League universities in the United States. Speaking at the Aimhigher roadshow launch at Eastlea Community school in Newham, Mrs Hodge said:

"For too long lack of ambition and aspiration has stopped young people from going on to higher education – we want that to change. The Aimhigher campaign means that young people, who may not have thought about going on to university, as well as their parents and teachers, will get the information and support that will help break down their fears and prejudices. Our top universities must also take a long hard look at their student intake. Over 85 per cent of those who go to our top universities come from the top three income groups. That means that less than 15 per cent of their students come from half the population. Background, not potential, is having an undue influence on people’s life chances. In America the Ivy League universities invest many thousands of dollars in finding and identifying the most talented young people. Universities here must hunt out bright young people from disadvantaged areas."

Education and Skills Secretary Estelle Morris said: "We cannot continue to allow young people’s talent to go untapped. Nobody can think that middle class children are brighter than poorer children. But then why are you five times more likely to enter higher education if you are from a professional background as opposed to an unskilled or manual background?"

"As a Government, we fully recognise our responsibility to raise attainment. Improved staying-on rates and standards at secondary school are key. But together with universities, colleges and schools we have to raise the self-esteem and sights of some of our young people. Ensuring that 50 per cent of young people go on to higher education by 2010 is at the forefront of our vision for the future of education. It’s an ambitious target, but with practical campaigns such as Aimhigher, is one that we can work together to achieve. "

From 15 January five trailers will tour schools in areas with low rates of participation in higher education. The trailers will screen an interactive film for groups of teenagers and are staffed by young people who themselves have gone on to higher education and know first-hand the opportunities that it can open up and the difference that it can make to people’s lives. The campaign is backed by key celebrities from the worlds of fashion, sport and TV, including supermodel Naomi Campbell, Liverpool and England midfielder Steven Gerrard and Radio One DJ Judge Jules.

In the second and third years of the roadshow, staff from NatWest and the Royal Bank will be on hand to offer advice on financial aspects of going to university when the trailers visit further education colleges. NatWest’s award winning financial education programme, Face2Face with Finance, will be made available to all Excellence in City schools allowing them to prepare those going on to higher education with the knowledge to manage their money effectively.


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