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Page Background

Participation in higher education

in England has increased

significantly since 1990 when

19% of young people went to

university. This has risen to 40%

in 2016 and includes more young

people from disadvantaged

backgrounds than ever before.


Realising Opportunities (RO)

works to address the gaps

that still remain in the system.

Despite numbers increasing,

students from disadvantaged

backgrounds are still 2.4

times less likely to progress to

university than those from the

most advantaged backgrounds.


The difference is even more

distinct when considering

progression to highly selective

institutions, to which 21% of

the most advantaged students

progress compared to 3% of

the least advantaged.


The 2016

higher education white paper

called for students to be able

to make informed choices. The

RO programme is designed to

give students a wide range of

information in a wide range of

ways in order for students to

have the space and support to

make these informed choices.

As a Partnership of leading

research intensive universities



RO aims to:

• Increase the number of

applicants and entrants to RIUs

from under-represented groups

in support of fair access and

social mobility.

• Prepare students for success

at RIUs and progression

to graduate careers and/or

postgraduate study.

• Raise awareness and

understanding of RIUs.

• Broaden geographical horizons

and help students make an

informed academic choice.

• Improve the evidence base

among the participating

universities for the use of

compact schemes and

contextual data in admissions.

• Inform and influence

government policy in widening

participation and fair access.

To realise these aims, the

Partnership offers a targeted,

national compact scheme to

students in Year 12 and 13

across England.


Realising Opportunities


Realising Opportunities does and

7 As reported in the 2016 White Paper, ‘Success as a Knowledge Economy: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice’.

8 As above.

9 As reported in the 2015 Green Paper, ‘Fulfilling our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice’.

10 Members of the Russell Group and former members of the 1994 Group.

All Partner

universities recognise

the successful

completion of the

RO Programme with

alternative, reduced

offers of up to two

A Level grades or