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2. What is Realising Opportunities?

Why Realising Opportunities exists

Participation in higher education in England has increased

significantly since 1990 when 19% of young people went

to university. This has now risen to half of those aged under

30 in 2016/17

1

. This includes more young people from

disadvantaged backgrounds than ever before. RO works

to address gaps that still remain in the system.

Despite numbers increasing, students from disadvantaged

backgrounds are still half as likely to progress to university

as those from the most advantaged backgrounds. That

difference is even more distinct when considering

progression to highly selective universities, to which 22%

of the most advantaged students progress compared to

4% of the least advantaged

2

.

The RO programme is designed to give students a wide

range of information in a wide range of ways. This ensures

students have the space and support they need to make

informed choices about going to university, and ‘research

intensive universities’ (RIUs).

Research intensive universities

(RIUs) produce high

quality research which makes new discoveries possible,

and contribute to increased knowledge for the good of

society; they seek to address global problems with

cutting edge research. Teaching is research-led in a

vibrant environment which makes for an exceptional

student learning experience. At RIUs:

l

New discoveries are being made

l

Facilities are cutting edge

l

Research is being carried out to help address

problems in the wider world

l

Researchers are experts in their fields and their

enthusiasm and passion is shared with students

studying at the university

l

Teaching at all levels is research-led or

research-informed

l

There are strong links with business.

The Partnership started as a three-year pilot scheme

funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for

England (HEFCE) with 12 participating universities. The

programme became self-financed by the Partnership after

the pilot ended, and the Partnership has increased its

members since then. The following list shows the

universities that have been involved in RO since it began:

l

University of Birmingham

l

University of Bristol

l

University of Essex

l

University of Exeter

l

Goldsmiths, University of London

l

King’s College London

l

University of Leeds

l

University of Leicester

l

University of Liverpool

l

University of Manchester

l

Newcastle University

l

Queen Mary University of London

l

UCL

l

University of Sheffield

l

University of Sussex

l

University of Warwick

l

University of York

Aims of Realising Opportunities

The RO programme is a targeted, national compact scheme

for students in Year 12 and 13 across England that aims to:

l

Increase the number of applicants and entrants to RIUs

from under-represented groups, in support of fair access

and social mobility.

l

Prepare students for success at RIUs and progression to

graduate careers and/or postgraduate study.

l

Raise awareness and understanding of RIUs.

l

Broaden geographical horizons and help students make

an informed academic choice.

l

Improve the evidence base among the participating

universities for the use of compact schemes and

contextual data in admissions.

l

Inform and influence government policy in widening

participation and fair access.

The Realising Opportunities

programme

Participating students start the RO programme in Year

12 and it offers them support throughout Year 12 and 13.

Successful completion of the programme can result in

an alternative (reduced by up to two A level grades) offer

from any of the RO Partner universities. The elements of

the programme, and benefits for students, are shown in

Table 1.

1. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/744087/Main_text_participation_rates_in_higher_ education_2006_to_2017_.pdf

2. Disadvantage measured using POLAR Quintile – UCAS End of Cycle Report 2017: Patterns by Applicant Characteristics

3