Realising Opportunities (RO) was launched in September 2009 and was funded by theHigher Education Council for England to run for a three year pilot phase. Three cohorts of students have taken part in the pilot programme which came to an end in July 2012. The universities involved in the RO partnership have committed to continue to support the programme beyond the end of the pilot phase through to July 2016, allowing a further three cohorts of students the opportunity to participate and benefit from the support on offer, which is a reflection the success of the programme to date.
In April 2010 the first cohort of 312 Realising Opportunities students from targeted schools and colleges was recruited. Cohort 1 completed RO in July 2011 with many students going on to study at university in the autumn of 2011. Their university destinations have been tracked through UCAS to assess the impact of their participation in the RO Programme. 95% of cohort 1 students applied through UCAS for 2011 entry, with 58% of their applications made to research intensive universities.
In February 2011, 358 cohort 2 students began the RO programme which completed for them in July 2012. Many have accepted a place at university for 2012 entry and their progress is being tracked to monitor the continued effectiveness of the programme.
The RO programme continues to expand, and 538 students were recruited to cohort 3. They have now completed their first year of RO and will complete the remainder of the programme during the 2012/13 academic year, supporting them with their preparations for and applications to university.
Cohort 4 and beyond
The success of the pilot phase of RO and its impact on the first three cohorts of students has been such that the RO Partner universities have committed to the continued support of the programme to July 2016. We recruited a fourth cohort of students during autumn of 2012 and plan to further grow the number of students being given the opportunity to participate in RO for cohorts 5 and 6.