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22 July 2011
More than 90 Welsh school pupils who may never have considered higher education before have gained greater understanding of university life from a series of University residential summer schools.
They included 65 Year 12 pupils from Rhondda Cynon Taff, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr Tydfil, Aberystwyth and the Vale of Glamorgan - all with aspirations to study for professional degrees.
The Summer School for the Professions, which is run by the University’s Widening Access Team, is an opportunity to find out about courses and career prospects in subjects like Medicine, Accountancy, Engineering, Planning and Radiography. Pupils receive practical tips on applying to university, writing personal statements and mock interviews. Over the course of three days the pupils also learn about the social side of university. They develop skills such as confidence, teamwork, presentation and communication, including taking part in a public speaking competition based on current affairs.
Joseph Davies from Aberdare, whose team won the speaking competition with a presentation about life expectancy said: "The Summer School was a great opportunity to get a taste of university life and to expand my knowledge and experience of the medical course Cardiff University has to offer. The presentation itself great as it meant working with people I’d never met before and it gave me great experience of working in a team and speaking to a large audience. My aim to study medicine was only enhanced by my experiences on the Summer School."
Special guest Cardiff Central Assembly Member Jenny Rathbone attended the event to present prizes for the best presentation.
Describing how going to university opens minds and provides opportunities they may never have known about, Jenny Rathbone said: "The Summer School programme provides a wonderful opportunity for young people. To be able to experience university life first hand, speak to students already at university and see the kind of work expected is invaluable. I was very impressed by the talent, enthusiasm and knowledge that came through in all the presentations and I am sure taking part in the programme has inspired them and focused their thoughts about the benefits of going to university."
The event is part of the University’s Step-up to University scheme which secondary school pupils join in Year 11. Running since 2001, around 1,400 pupils in Years 11, 12 and 13 are on the Step up to University scheme at any one time. In 2010, more than 180 pupils applied for university, with over 150 gaining a place.
Vicky Roylance, Senior Widening Access Officer, said: "We’ve found Step-up to be a successful scheme through which we can offer a range of general and subject specific events, newsletters, e-mentoring and other support all of which is designed to raise aspirations, raise attainment and help them get into higher education, particularly among secondary aged pupils from non-traditional backgrounds."
Also taking place during the week was the Confident Futures Summer School. The scheme, which is unique in Wales, saw 15 children spend two-days at the University getting an insight into making the transition from care to university life. The scheme, now in its third year, has been highly acclaimed by social work professionals across South Wales. It is backed by Looked After Children teams from Caerphilly, Bridgend, and Rhondda Cynon Taff, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.
The University also played host to 13 pupils on the University’s Discovery Summer School. This scheme, also unique, is designed to raise aspirations, build confidence and skills among young people aged 15–19 with Aspergers Syndrome. The two-day event provides experience of the first few days of student life in a safe, supported environment. Pupils take part in activities including overnight stays in halls of residence, using university facilities, handing in essays, navigating the campus, and planning social events.
Confident Futures and Discovery Summer School are funded by First Campus, a partnership of all further and higher education institutions in South East Wales.
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