Realising Opportunities (RO) provides support during post-16 studies to develop the skills to be successful at university.

RO students benefit from increased information, advice and access to some of the country’s leading research intensive universities. Students accepted on to RO follow a programme which ensures they are better equipped for university life and what research intensive universities can offer.

  • RO has enabled me to study my dream course at a Russell Group University

    Joe, RO student 2015-2017

  • The ementoring scheme has been very useful - it was hugely beneficial to get support from someone who has been in the same place as you

    Krupa, RO student 2011-2012

  • On the RO programme, you are exposed to a wealth of opportunities. The best experience for me was a week-long residential where I stayed in University halls

    Naazia, RO Student 2010-2011

  • I had no idea what a research intensive university was before taking part in RO

    Raelle, RO Student 2010-2011

  • I learned how to structure assignments and look for reliable sources to get information from

    RO student, 2013-2015

  • My UCAS application was much stronger, but more importantly I feel I gained valuable skills that could be transferred to university

    Robert, RO Student 2010-2011


Please note: this eligibility criteria relates to applications to the programme in 2017. The eligibility criteria for 2018 applications will be updated soon.

To be eligible to apply for a place on the Realising Opportunities programme you must be a year 12 student attending an eligible school/college which is participating in RO.

As an individual, you must meet all of the criteria in list A and at least two from list B^:

You must meet all of the following

  • Have achieved at least 8 A* to C or 9 – 4 grades at GCSE (or equivalent, e.g. GNVQ, BTEC Certificate) including English Language and Mathematics^.
  • Of these 8 GCSEs or equivalent, at least 5 must be at grade A*, A, B, 9, 8, 7 or 6^.
  • Be a Home/EU registered student, or expect to be by the time they apply for higher education.

You must meet at least two of the following^

  • Live in a neighbourhood which has a low progression rate to higher education or an area which has a high level of financial, social or economic deprivation. This is defined by home postcode (you can use the post code checker at the bottom of this section to check this).
  • Come from a home where neither parent attended university in the UK or abroad. (If one or more parent is currently studying their first degree, or graduated from their first degree within the last five years, an application will still be considered).
  • Be in receipt of or entitled to discretionary payments/16-19 bursary/Pupil Premium at school/college.
  • Be in receipt of or entitled to free school meals.
  • Alternatively if students are living in, or have lived in, local authority care or are a young carer** then they do not need to meet two of the criteria from list B.

^If students do not meet the prior attainment outlined in list A or at least two of the criteria outlined in list B, but have experienced difficult family or individual circumstances that may affect their performance in exams or the likelihood of them going to university, their application may still be considered on an individual basis. Circumstances considered include, but are not limited to, students who live independently from their families, those experiencing significant family issues or those students who have a disability/health condition which may have affected their educational achievements. Students should discuss this with their teacher/tutor before making an application.

**Those defined as living in, or who have lived in, local authority care are those who are being looked after by their local authority, either living with foster parents/other family members such as grandparents, at home with their parents under the supervision of social services, in a residential children’s home or in another residential setting such as school or secure unit, or someone who has experienced a period of three months in the care of the local authority within the last ten years. Those defined as young carers are those who are under the age of 18 who help look after someone in their family, or a friend, who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol. There is no time limit on the amount of care they provide for their dependents, this is just above and beyond what is normally expected.


Taking part in RO will give you access to:

A local launch event at your host university to get you started with RO and to meet university representatives.

Experiences and support to help you make an informed choice about higher education and research intensive universities.

A chance to develop your skills in analysis, critical thinking, evaluation and research through taking either the Extended Project Qualification (if offered at your school/college) or the RO Academic Assignment.

A dedicated ementor who is a current university student and will guide you through an interactive support programme. You’ll also have full use of our ementoring portal and Bright Knowledge Bank which is packed full of useful resources!

A National Student Conference where you’ll get the chance to meet students from across the country taking part in RO as well as all of the RO universities.

A wide range of events and activities at the RO universities. Support for travel costs may be available with prior arrangement.

Skills4uni - an online study skills module which will help you develop your planning and independent research skills.

The Benefits

By taking part in the RO Programme you will benefit from the following:

Additional Consideration

All RO universities will give additional consideration to your UCAS application

Alternative offer

The majority of RO universities will give you an alternative offer worth up to two A level grades lower
Please refer to the Recognition Guide on the Resources page for more information about this.

Access to careers information

You will have access to professionals who will offer you career advice and information


You can find some examples of previous RO events below to help you understand the kinds of events available to RO students:

    BA Design Degree Show Tour

    BA Design Degree Show Tour

    Location: Goldsmiths, University of London

    Information: RO students discovered what creative final year undergraduate Design students have researched, developed and designed in their final year of study at Goldsmiths, University of London. Guided tours were available throughout the day.
    An excerpt from the exhibition blurb: It is a space of connection and synthesis, one in which opposites work through that tension to discover, create and question design. This involves our students in a dynamic process, which is arrested and captured in our annual degree show. And we invite you to share this space; reflect, initiate, mediate, prompt, recast, converge, interrupt your own ways of thinking about our world, and taking action to make it better.
    Who attended the event: this event was open to RO students and current undergraduate students at Goldsmiths, University of London.

    Post 16 Summer School

    Post 16 Summer School

    Location: University of Sussex

    Information: For the Summer School, students chose 1 subject to study from the choice of Chemistry, Physics, Maths, History, English, Media Practice, Law or Psychology. This is event was a great opportunity for students to gain degree level insight into their chosen academic subject by attending key note lectures as well as workshops on revision techniques and HE finance. Attendees stayed in the halls of residence to get a real feel for student life. Alongside this, students also experienced the social side of university with a taster Student Union societies night, cooking on a student budget session, and a chill out and pizza night at the Student Union.
    Who attended the event: Year 12 and Year 13 students from across the UK.

    The Science Behind CSI workshop

    The Science Behind CSI workshop

    Location: University of Sheffield

    Information: TThe Science Behind CSI workshop gave year 12 students a hands-on laboratory experience using cutting edge equipment and the latest molecular biology techniques.
    This workshop also gave insight into the science behind forensic investigation- by setting up a fake crime scene, students had the opportunity to spend a day investigating! Using molecular DNA techniques, such as PCR amplification of DNA found at the scene, students identified the criminal from a number of suspects. This was coupled with chemical analysis of soil samples found in a footprint at the ‘scene’, comparing it to soil found in the suspects’ gardens.
    Who attended the event: This event was run via the Excellence Hub – a partnership between the universities of Leeds York and Sheffield, and was open to all RO students.

    Year 12 Conference – A Taste of Social Science

    Year 12 Conference – A Taste of Social Science

    Location: University of Leeds campus

    Information: This conference showcased the social sciences, illustrating the breadth of choice available in higher education, and gave students a taste of what it’s like to study at university. The programme included a careers talk, interactive seminars and group-work, and an informal Q&A session with current undergraduate students to give attendees a flavor of what it’s like to studying Social Science at university.

    Workshops included: ‘Why do people hate politicians?’, ‘White but living Blackness; the new Mixed Race experience’, ‘Is upgrading your smartphone downgrading planet Earth?’, and ‘What does it mean to be entrepreneurial?’. 

    Who attended the event: As the event showcased different disciplines it was of interest to students from a wide variety of subjects, including Business, Geography, Law, Politics, Sociology, History, and Philosophy.

Revision Resources

We’ve put together lots of useful links and resources to help you plan your revision and prepare for your exams.

Resources have been split into categories including: learning styles, revision techniques and methods, subject specific resources, past papers and overcoming exam stress and anxiety.

You can work through the whole revision document or click on the title which most interests you and go directly to that section.


You can call the National Careers Service helpline for information and advice about jobs, careers and training if you’re 13 or older in England. See the Careers helpline webpage for more information.

All About Careers is an information website for young people aged 16-24 with detailed information across 24 industry sectors.

The Bright Knowledge Bank has lots of useful articles about Career Pathways, as well as practical advice and information about work experience