Applications are currently closed and will reopen in September 2022

Schools participating in RO will be provided with a Student Application Key which allows students to access the online application system. Students join the RO programme in Year 12.

If you work at a state-funded school/college and have students who would meet the eligibility criteria for participation, you should contact the Partner university geographically closest to you to discuss if it possible for your school/college to take part. RO has a limited capacity for the number of students we are able to work with each year.

Step One:

Students must meet all of the following

In order to be eligible to apply for the Realising Opportunities programme students must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Attend a state-funded school/college which is currently working with an RO university to deliver the RO Programme
  • Have achieved at least five grade A*–B (9–6) at GCSE (or equivalent, eg GNVQ, BTEC certificate); if this does not include English Language and Mathematics you must have achieved at least a grade C (4) in these subjects†
  • Be a Home registered student or expect to be by the time they apply for higher education. If they are not a Home registered student, but are classed as an asylum seeker, please see below for further information.

Step Two:

Students must meet at least two of the following

Students must also meet at least two of the following criteria, at the point in time the student applies to the RO programme.†:

  • 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.‡
  • 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 be considered eligible for this criteria).
  • 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, or have been entitled to them at a point in the last six years.
  • Be attending or have attended a school/college§:that is performing below the national average for key stage 4: 5+ 9-4/A*-C or equivalents including 9-4 in both English and Mathematics or below the national average Attainment 8 score per school or which is performing below the national average at key stage 5, or where there is higher than the national average number of students eligible for free school meals.
    Or alternatively meet the following:
  • Be living in, or have lived in, local authority care or be a young carer, or are estranged/living independently from their families.¥

If the number of students applying to a Realising Opportunities Partner university is greater than the number of places available that year, students meeting the highest number of criteria in Step 2 will be prioritised. Students who have had a disrupted education as outlined below† will be counted as meeting the equivalent of one step 2 criteria in this circumstance.

Home postcodes can be checked using the handy Postcode Checker tool below. To read the full terms and definitions that are referred to in the criteria above please click below on ‘Read more’.

Important information

† If students do not meet the prior attainment outlined in step 1 or at least two of the criteria outlined in step 2, but have experienced a period of disrupted education, their application may still be considered on an individual basis. Except in extreme circumstances, disruption caused by the Coronavirus pandemic will not be considered. Disruptions considered include, but are not limited to, students who:

Are experiencing/have experienced significant family issues
Have a disability
Have a health condition
Identify under the trans umbrella Ɲ
Are from Gypsy, Roma or Traveller communities
Are Refugees, or under Humanitarian Protection≠
Are the children of military families
Extreme circumstances linked to the Coronavirus pandemic which would be considered are:

The student has experienced serious illness and spent a prolonged period in hospital as a result of Coronavirus
The student has had significant caring responsibilities as a result of Coronavirus (e.g. caring for someone extremely clinically vulnerable/shielding)
The student has suffered a close family bereavement due to Coronavirus
Coronavirus has created or exacerbated a very difficult or dangerous living situation
‡ A neighbourhood with low progression rates to higher education is defined by home postcodes which are in POLAR4 quintile 1 and 2. More information on the POLAR classification can be found at https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/data-and-analysis/polar-participation-of-local-areas/. An area which has a high level of financial, social or economic deprivation is defined by home postcodes which are in the 40% most deprived wards within the Index of Mass Deprivation (IMD). For more information on IMD please see https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/english-indices-of-deprivation-2015

§ National averages used are based on all schools in England:

Key Stage 4:

5+ 9-4/A*-C or equivalents including 9-4 in both English and Mathematics – 64.6%
Attainment 8 score per school – 46.7%

Key Stage 5:

Average point score per A level entry – 33.09%
Average point score per academic entry – 33.25%
Average point score per applied general entry – 29.70%
Average point score per tech level entry – 32.32%
Free school meals: 15.9%

§ National averages used are based on all schools in England:

¥ 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 under the age of 18 who help look after someone in their family, or a friend. 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. Those defined as estranged/living independently from their families are students studying without the support and approval of their parents due to a breakdown in their relationship – this might be their biological, step or adoptive parents, and sometimes their wider family members.

ⱽ Those defined as asylum seekers are classed as international students and are therefore required to pay international fees for undergraduate/postgraduate courses at UK higher education providers. Asylum seekers are also not eligible for Student Finance. However, asylum seekers are able to apply for a Sanctuary Scholarship which, if eligible, may offer support towards the costs of higher education. Realising Opportunities would therefore welcome application enquiries from students who are eligible to apply for Sanctuary Scholarships. To make an enquiry about applying to Realising Opportunities, asylum seekers are required to have a discussion with the RO Central Team before submitting a Realising Opportunities application.

Ɲ Those defined as identifying under the trans umbrella are students whose gender identity and/or expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth and includes students who live permanently or temporarily in one or more genders.