Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
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25 June 2007 PR 07/88

University teams up with local firm to give care leavers insight into HE

Loughborough University has joined forces with FKI plc, the parent company of the local BRUSH businesses, to give a taste of higher education to young care leavers – those who have spent time in the care of their local authority but are now moving on.

FKI plc supported a two-day summer school, on 20 and 21 June, which enabled the students from local schools to take part in a variety of activities designed to give them an insight into the many of aspects of university life.

A similar event held for the first time last year proved exceptionally successful. Nine students from Leicestershire and the East Midlands attended, all of whom have continued in education.

“We held a pilot event specifically for care leavers last year, in collaboration with the other two Leicestershire universities, and it was incredibly successful,” says Kay Bridger, Loughborough University’s widening participation officer. “We hope this year’s event proved to be just as rewarding for the students involved and, of course, FKI’s support has meant we could offer more places than ever before.”

“Only a very small percentage of care leavers go on to higher education. If we can demonstrate to even a handful of these young people what university life is like, and help to raise their aspirations, showing them that university is well within their reach, we’ll be more than pleased.”

The programme at Loughborough included hands-on, interactive activities in engineering and sports science. As part of an engineering design challenge, teams of students were asked to build a tower out of everyday materials, with the creations judged on the look, durability and how economical their design was. The sports science session enabled the students to test their own fitness and learn how top sports men and women find their motivation to win. The event concluded with a Silly Mini Olympics, with participants pitting themselves against each other and the University’s own students!

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Notes for editors:

  1. Facts and figures on looked after young people (from The Way Ahead)

    • 50% of young people leaving care at 16+ have no qualifications.
    • 11% of looked after children achieved 5 GCSE grade A*-C in 2005 (compared with 54% of all children)
    • Poor results at key stage tests at 7, 11 and 14
    • Only 1-6% go to university (compared to 40% of school leavers)
    • Young people in care are disproportionately likely to be unemployed
    • Young people who have been in care are 2.5 times more likely to become teenage parents
    • 26% of prisoners have been in care as children (compared with 2% of the total population)

  2. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

    It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research-intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

    Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

    In the 2006 National Student Survey, the University gained a top five place, with nine out of Loughborough’s 23 departments topping their subject tables. Loughborough was also placed 6th in the 2007 Times Good University Guide and was named winner of the 2006 THES award for the UK’s Best Student Experience. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other university.

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