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 virtual event

with their host university to celebrate their place on the RO programme, get them started, and meet university representatives and other students taking part in the RO programme.

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 the RO Academic Skills Module.

Online support

through which students can get answers to their questions from both current university students who have been in their shoes and staff from the RO universities.

A virtual student conference

where students have the chance to meet others from across the country taking part in RO and representatives from all of the RO universities.

A wide range of events and activities

at the RO Partner universities.

Alternative offers

from the Partner RO universities^

Additional consideration

when students make an application to an RO university through UCAS.


An online study skills challenge and multiple choice quiz which will help them develop their planning and independent research skills, as well as providing an insight into studying at university.

^please see the Recognition Guides on the RO student resources page for examples of course exemptions.

To successfully complete
RO students must:

  • Complete the RO Academic Skills Module (ASM).
  • Gain a pass in the skills4uni online study skills challenge.
  • Attend the virtual local launch and virtual student conference. Students are also encouraged to attend at least one other event or activity of their choice at a RO Partner university.

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.




Applications will open in January 2021


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

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.

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 informationⱽ

Students must also meet at least two of the following criteria†:

  • 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 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, 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 5+ A*-C/9-4 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

At the point in time the student applies to the RO Programme.

Or alternatively meet the following:

  • Be living in, or have lived in, local authority care or be a young carer¥

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.

† 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 estranged/living independently from their families.
- are experiencing/have experienced significant family issues
- have a disability
- have a health condition
- are from Gypsy, Roma or Traveller communities
- are Refugees
- are the children of military families


Extreme circumstances linked to Coronavirus 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 An area which has a high level of financial, social or economic deprivation is defined by home postcodes which are in the 30% most deprived wards within the Index of Mass Deprivation (IMD). For more information on IMD please see

§ 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%


¥ 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.

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 

  • Gaining a huge insight into academic writing was the prefect segue into university life. I really do believe that RO gave me a head start to life at university and really did open up my eyes

    Mohammed, Former RO student



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.

CH12 recruitment guide for Teachers

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

Schools and colleges liaison


Information for teachers and advisors

School and college services

Information for schools and careers advisors


Information for schools and colleges

Information for teachers

Schools, colleges and community groups


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