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Exeter Scholars’ now offers places to 900 Year 9,10 and 12 pupils from across the country

Exeter’s pioneering progression programme ‘Exeter Scholars’ recruits record numbers

A pioneering programme at the University of Exeter, designed to support and nurture high-achieving pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, is celebrating record success.

The innovative scheme, called ‘Exeter Scholars’, now offers places to 900 Year 9,10 and 12 pupils from across the country, following a recent relaunch.

The programme, which strengthens Exeter’s commitment to fair access, provides five different pathways, while participants can choose from 32 subject activity strands run by the University’s leading academics and PhD students.  

It helps young people deal with the pressures of progressing through GCSE, A levels and equivalent qualifications and beyond to university by building resilience and opening access to a range of support tools.

These include a recently launched new eLearning platform, developed in partnership with social mobility charity Brightside, allowing a blended learning approach for those pupils who live further away from campus to gain skills and improve their own understanding about university.

The University’s Widening Participation Manager Melissa Ruddock said the content of the programme was designed to help support students in making informed decisions about their future.

It also supports their school attainment throughout the 2–5 years that they are with the University to help make the transition to university as easy as possible.

Melissa said: “This programme provides an insight into the benefits of higher education, student life and what it’s like to study a wide range of different disciplines. The focus is not just on raising aspirations but also supporting participant wellbeing in a time when mental health is very much in the spotlight.”

The Scholars scheme’s achievements so far include:

  • 816 new entrants onto programme in 2017/18
  • 414 course applications to Exeter from Scholars in 2018 – more than half of the most recent cohort
  • 104 Senior Scholars started at Exeter as an undergraduate in September 2018
  • 83% of 2018 programme graduates applied to a high tariff university
  • Scholars are twice as likely to apply to a high tariff university than their peer group 
  • £218,800 in donor funding has been pledged to help WP students in 2017/18
  • 75% of respondents said the programme increased their motivation with regards to their current studies

Exeter Scholars also incorporates within it the nationally recognised Pathways to Law programme, which is run in partnership with the Sutton Trust, the foundation which seeks to improve social mobility. 

Having successfully delivered Pathways to Law at Exeter since 2013 it is a significant opportunity for Exeter Scholars participants taking part in this subject activity strand to have access to a national group of leading universities also working with the Sutton Trust on the programme.    

Melissa said: “Recently published data on the Exeter Scholars programme and that released by The Sutton Trust show that these programmes have a significant impact on participants likelihood to not only apply to university but to apply to high tariff, research intensive universities.”

The success of the Exeter Scholars programme was show recently, when more than 400 students from across the South West, plus their parents and carers, were invited to attend the Scholars conference at the University’s Streatham Campus as the first step in their programme experience.

The four other pathways will be recruiting over the next six months and these participants will become a part of the Exeter Scholars community via a variety of day visits and residential events.

At the event, former participants of the programme who are now studying at the University spoke about their experience and how it helped them on their journey to Higher Education. 

Thomas Bailey, a first year BSc Geography Undergraduate, said: “It will give you a great insight into whether your chosen subject is definitely what you want to do at university. It will also give you an idea if university is the right path for you. Mainly have fun and make the most of it!” 

Amelia Huxtable, a first year MPhys Physics with Astrophysics undergraduate told participants, “When I started at university I felt like I was ready as I had already been in the university setting. Although everything was new I had almost done it before.”       

Date: 7 February 2019