Nottingham Trent University (NTU) is a founding partner of a new online hub ‘Uni4Me’ that is coordinating online outreach work aimed at widening access to higher education.
NTU is one of 50 organisations on the Uni4me website, which brings together 250 online activities. This Uni4me hub acts as a central portal where learners, parents and teachers can access free activities to help them to explore educational opportunities and support students to progress to Higher Education. The initiative is led by the National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) and funded by the participating organisations including NTU.
Uni4Me is designed to maximise the opportunities for online outreach to help address the impact of Covid-19 on face to face student outreach work. Research by NEON indicates that over 80% of HE providers do not expect to be able to work in schools before January 2021.
Nottingham Trent’s evidence-based approach to social mobility was recognised in October, when the University was named University of the Year at the Social Mobility Awards. NTU’s Centre for Student and Community Engagement (CenSCE) have been adapting their outreach services to help mitigate the impact of Covid-19.
In addition to supporting post-16 students in the process of navigating UCAS decision-making with online resources, activities and live events, CenSCE have been supporting school leadership teams by facilitating participatory action learning themed around ‘Character in a time of crisis’. The team have been consulting with teachers to redesign primary and secondary provision to help meet the needs of young people on their return to school from September.
Younger children have been able to continue to participate in (and gain recognition for) extra-curricular learning via activity booklets and a new online platform, as part of the Children’s University scheme.
Uni4me enables online provision to reach more learners from widening access backgrounds and facilitates an evidence based approach to the development of online provision. Participation in the Uni4Me hub will be tracked to enable schools, colleges and universities to ensure that those who most need it are benefiting from the resources on offer.
The aim is to expand the activities on offer from Uni4Me over the next year and work with more partners from across educational sectors. NTU will continue to expand and update the resources available to students on Uni4Me to allow students to tailor the information to their needs.
David Woolley, Director of CenSCE at Nottingham Trent University said, “Recent gains in access and participation risk being swept away by Covid-19 and it is unlikely that traditional forms of outreach will be feasible in the near future. It is therefore critical that widening participation provision adapts to the current situation and Uni4me is an important piece of this new provision. Social Mobility is central to NTU’s mission and we are proud to be part of this initiative”.
The Director of NEON, Dr Graeme Atherton commented, “In the current circumstances ensuring higher education is available to all those who can benefit from it is now more important than ever. Uni4Me is a key platform to ensure outreach work can continue and we are proud to have NTU as one of the founding partners.”