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Loughborough joins national widening access scheme

Loughborough and Lancaster University have become the latest partners in Realising Opportunities (RO), the innovative widening access scheme led by Newcastle University.

There are now 16 research intensive universities across England involved in RO1 making it a highly unique opportunity for students.  To date over 7,000 very able 16/17-year-olds from backgrounds underrepresented in higher education have taken part and the inclusion of Lancaster and Loughborough will allow even more students to benefit from RO.

Professor Chris Day, Vice-Chancellor and President of Newcastle University, said: “I am delighted that both Lancaster and Loughborough universities are joining RO. RO’s strength is in the collaboration between the universities involved which allows a high quality programme - which is having real impact on students - to be delivered. We look forward to working with both universities to further strengthen RO and enable more students to take part in the RO Programme.” 

RO is contributing to the Office for Students’ target to eliminate the gap in participation at higher tariff providers between the most and least represented groups2, an area RO has had great success in to date.

At a time when the Department for Education report only 17% of pupils at state schools nationally3 – including state school students from advantaged backgrounds – progress to the top third of UK institutions, one in three RO students have progressed to research intensive universities.

Professor Rachel Thomson, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Teaching) at Loughborough University, said: “We are excited to be joining the RO partnership, and have the opportunity to collaborate with other research-intensive Universities to inspire and support students from under-represented groups into higher education through this impactful initiative.

“We are absolutely committed to widening participation and fair access and this programme allows us the opportunity to build on our extensive range of high-quality interventions to support young people achieve to their full potential.”

RO students access a programme of activity designed to support them to make an informed choice about their university application and develop skills vital for study at higher education. The commitment the students demonstrate on the programme is rewarded with a lower offer through UCAS. Students report that the RO programme increases their understanding of RIUs and university life and makes them better prepared for university.

Professor Steve Decent, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Academic Development at Lancaster University commented: “Lancaster University is thrilled to be working with Realising Opportunities and its partner universities to support more young people from under-represented backgrounds to access higher education. The Realising Opportunities programme provides a distinctive opportunity for students to engage with a large number of universities to enhance their skills and knowledge and take their next steps into further learning informed and prepared. We look forward to working with our local community to provide more students with access to this successful programme.”

RO students achieve great success when at university with more students staying on-course and achieving First and Upper Second Class honours degrees at better rates than the national averages.

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said: “Our world class universities should be open to everyone who has the talent and potential. The Realising Opportunities programme helps highly able students from disadvantaged backgrounds access the life changing experience of going to university, and I am pleased that Lancaster and Loughborough have pledged their support.” 

Lancaster and Loughborough universities both bring extensive experience of widening access to higher education. RO is delighted that these two universities will not only strengthen the collaboration but increase the number of students able to benefit from the programme.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 19/144

1 These are: Birmingham, Exeter, Lancaster, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Loughborough, Sheffield, Sussex, Warwick and York; Goldsmiths, University of London; King’s College London, Newcastle University, Queen Mary University of London and UCL.

2 https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/media/0bcce522-df4b-4517-a4fd-101c2468444a/regulatory-notice-1access-and-participation-plan-guidance.pdf

3 https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/download-data 16 - 18 student destinations data 

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Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2019 QS World University Rankings, University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019 and top in the country for its student experience in the 2018 THE Student Experience Survey.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2020, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019 and 8th in The UK Complete University Guide 2020.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.

Loughborough staff, students and alumni make a real difference. They challenge convention, think creatively and find solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing society today and in the future.

Meet the #LboroGameChangers at lboro.ac.uk/lborogamechangers

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