Schools and Colleges

Realising Opportunities (RO) is an innovative national programme for eligible, talented students at targeted schools and colleges providing increased access to some of the country’s leading research intensive universities.

RO gives students support during their post 16 studies to develop their skills to be successful at university.

The opportunities that these students are being offered are exciting, enriching and enlightening – they cannot fail to grow as individuals and be as informed as possible to make the right choices about their future, whatever that might bring for them.

Cohort 5 Vocational Tutor

Programme & Benefits

Taking part in RO will give students access to:

A local launch event

At the students’ host university to get them started with RO and meet university representatives.

Experiences and support

To help them make an informed choice about higher education and research intensive universities.

A chance to develop their 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 who will guide them through an interactive support programme. They will also have full use of our ementoring portal and the Bright Knowledge Bank which is packed full of useful resources!

A National Student Conference

Where students get a chance to meet others from across the country taking part in RO and representatives from all of the RO universities.

Events and Activites

At the RO universities. Support for travel costs may be available with prior arrangement.


An online study skills module which will help them develop their planning and independent research skills.

To successfully complete
RO students must:

  • Gain a pass in the RO Academic Assignment, or gain a grade C or above in the Extended Project Qualification.
  • Gain a pass in the skills4uni online study skills module.
  • Attend the local launch event and the National Student Conference. Students are also encouraged to attend at least one other event or activity of their choice at an RO university.
  • Work through an online programme of activities with an undergraduate ementor.

You can read more about the Realising Opportunities Programme and its benefits on the Prospective Student page.

Students who successfully complete RO

When applying through UCAS to any of the RO universities their application will be given additional consideration. They will also be considered for an alternative offer worth up to two A level grades or equivalent. All offers given through UCAS are dependent on the university and course they apply for. For exact details of what this would mean for their application, students should contact the universities they are interested in directly or refer to the RO Recognition Guide.



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

RO is a targeted widening participation programme promoting fair access and social mobility to assist young people from underrepresented groups to gain access to some of the country’s leading research intensive universities. To do this we specifically target Year 12 students who meet the school/college and individual criteria below.

School criteria

In order to be eligible to apply for the RO programme students must:

  • Have attended a school that is performing below the national average for 5 A*- C at GCSE (including English and Mathematics) or below the national average Attainment 8 score per school, or
  • Be attending a school/college which is performing below the national average at key stage 5, or
  • Have attended a school where there is higher than the national average number of students eligible for free school meals.

Please note: our partner universities use this criteria to inform their decisions about which schools they work with on RO.

As an individual, students 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.

  • The opportunities that these students are being offered are exciting, enriching and enlightening

    Gill, Careers and Vocational Links Coordinator at a school working with the University of Sussex

This section contains a number of resources that may be of interest to teachers who wish to know more about Realising Opportunities (RO) and for those currently supporting RO students.

Events and Activities

The RO universities have a wide programme of events and activities for students as well as professional development opportunities for teachers. To find out more about the events offered and to arrange an event for your students please follow the relevant links.

Information for teachers, careers advisors and parents.

Information for teachers.

Information for schools and colleges

Schools and colleges liaison


Information for teachers and advisors

School and college services

Information for schools and careers advisors

Information for teachers, advisors and parents


Information for schools and colleges

Schools, colleges and community groups

Information for schools and colleges


Outreach at Warwick

Services for schools and colleges


Advancing Access

Advancing Access provides a variety of CPD resources and online events for teachers and advisers to help them support students’ progression to leading universities