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More young people on aspirational programme go on to higher education

A University of Exeter programme designed to encourage aspiration is helping to ensure more students in state schools and colleges apply to higher education.

Pathways to Law gives aspirational and academically able students in the South West expertise in law, experience of student life and advice on preparing for higher education.

The second graduation for participants on the University of Exeter Pathways to Law programme took place at the Streatham Campus this week. Those who have taken part have developed the skills and confidence to pursue a successful legal career.

The students are from Bridgwater College, Coombeshead Academy in Newton Abbot, Coombe Dean School in Plymouth, Exeter College, Hele’s School in Plymouth, Newquay Tretherras School, Queen Elizabeth’s School in Crediton, St Cuthbert Mayne School in Torquay, The Blandford School in Dorset, The King Alfred School in Highbridge, Torquay Girls Grammar School and Truro and Penwith College.

Sixth formers who are the first in their family to apply to university get expert support, advice and mentoring, as well as the chance to work with academics, subject experts and representatives from various legal organisations, during a period of two years. Through on-campus events and live Q and A sessions they have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss student finance and the university application process and complete a work experience placement. They also have the opportunity to visit other prestigious universities, and attend a national residential conference.

Law academics teach modules on the constitution, negotiation, human rights and justice. This is the second cohort of students to graduate from the course. Many students from the first cohort are now studying at top universities, including the University of Exeter.

Students on the Pathways to Law programme are eligible to apply for various scholarships offered by the University of Exeter.

Participant Nick Middleton, 18, from Exeter College, is studying A-levels in law, geography and sociology. He has offers from three Russell Group universities for a university place. Nick, who lives in Digby and Sowton, said: “I took part because I was interested in working in the legal industry and this programme has been a good way to get experience. The talks given by laywers have shown me the interesting issues they have to deal with every day, and I have been given useful advice on applying to university and writing a personal statement.”

Amy Rickwood, 18, from The King Alfred School, is studying A-levels in biology, history and maths. Amy, who also has offers of a place at three Russell Group universities, said: “I had to take part in a lengthy university interview process and the workshops were useful in helping me prepare for this. The course was helpful because it was so specific to the course I want to study. I also found the training in skills such as negotiating and debating very valuable.”

Jasmine Tompkins, 18, from Truro and Penwith College, is studying A-levels in philosophy, psychology and English literature. She has an offer to study English literature at a Russell Group university. Jasmine, from Truro, said: “I found the chance to network and meet people from law firms very useful. We also had the chance to carry out work experience, an opportunity which would have been difficult to find otherwise.”

Jordan Murch, from Truro and Penwith College, 18, is studying biology, psychology and history. He has an offer from a Russell Group university to study law. Jordan, from Redruth, said: “It has been excellent to get a taste of university life and to get a taste of independence through the residential courses.”

Professor Tim Quine, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education), said: “At the University of Exeter we work extremely hard to encourage students from all backgrounds in the South West to apply to higher education and to compete for places on the most sought after programmes.

“The Pathways to Law programme has enabled us to offer invaluable opportunities to students from across the South West region. We are delighted that in 2015, 27 national Pathways students enrolled at the University– three times more than in 2014. This year, we celebrate the graduation of 30 students from the programme and acknowledge their commitment and hard work throughout the programme. They will now become fantastic Ambassadors for the scheme and will encourage many more students to undertake the programme and continue supporting aspirational young people into higher education.”

Pathways to Law is offered at 12 UK universities, including the University of Exeter and is run by the Sutton Trust and funded by the Legal Education Foundation.

Kathryn Davies, Senior Programmes Manager at The Sutton Trust, said: “Pathways to Law was set up by the Sutton Trust and the Legal Education Foundation to inspire and support academically able, disadvantaged students interested in a career in law.

“Exeter has done a fantastic job, since joining the programme in 2013, of creating an engaging and challenging programme of support. I have the privilege of meeting the students at the Pathways to Law conference, and have always been impressed by the dedication and enthusiasm the Exeter students have shown. I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavours.”

Date: 29 April 2016

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