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 showcases the idea from Paul Murray, Head of Community Engagement, and Chere Kempt, Head of Careers, UCAS Applications and Work Experience at the Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey.
The Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey is a coastal community school and has issues that are typical of other similar areas, such as trying to raise the aspirations of some of our students and their families.
The cost of university education is a major hurdle for many families. If students opt for university, they quite often live at home and travel to cut down costs. This limits them to local universities. In Kent, we are lucky to have the Kent and Medway Progression Federation and very supportive local universities that offer a good experience.
However, we would like to see more universities extend their outreach work into areas and communities like ours, to introduce students to the range of opportunities open to them, and the support available so they can take them up. But that support must begin before young people make their application, since if they want to go to open days further afield many families simply cannot afford to pay for the travel and overnight stay.
The Office for Students should urge universities to fund these basic costs for students who could not otherwise afford them, so they do not become another barrier in their way.