This blog is part of the series featuring ideas contained in the new HEPI-Brightside report, Reaching the parts of society universities have missed: A manifesto for the new Director for Fair Access and Participation. It introduces perspectives from third sector organisations and showcases the idea from Anand Shukla, Chief Executive of Brightside.
The lack of effective information, advice, and guidance is a damaging policy failure which inhibits social mobility.
While there is no shortage of information about higher education for young people, prospective students also need: advice and guidance to enable them to navigate it; to plan for their future; to discover and access opportunities they did not realise existed; and to provide practical strategies to realise their ambitions.
Today in the UK, access to such support all too often comes down to your family, school or college and whatever networks you are fortunate enough to access. This patchy approach to advice and guidance damages individual life chances while reducing the available talent pool for the country.
The digital age should make this state of affairs needless. The internet can connect young people with role models who can provide the personal insights and encouragement they need. In 2018, there are no longer any social or geographical barriers to providing one-to-one support to any young person. Based on Brightside’s experience of mentoring 100,000 disadvantaged young people online over the last 15 years, I want to see the Office for Students guarantee mentoring support for every school student who wants it.