Realising Opportunities (RO) was launched in September 2009 and was funded by the Higher 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 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 starting in February 2012. They have now completed the RO programme and many are taking up university places this autumn.
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. Our fourth cohort of students are half way through the programme and we are recruiting our fifth cohort during this autumn.