Guest Blog: Student Opportunity funding - why it counts for Staffordshire University

25 Nov 2013

Last week I saw my current class of Step Up to HE students successfully pass the first module of the course. As a tutor on the Step Up to HE course, I really enjoy engaging with students from such a wide range of backgrounds who have so much to offer to and gain from the university environment. The best thing about this course is that it allows people to have a free ten week taster of studying at Staffordshire University. Many of these people would not have even considered going directly into higher education without the support of the course and the friends that they made over the ten weeks.

According to the Office of National Statistics (2012) Stoke-on-Trent is the eighth poorest area in the country; it is characterised by low aspiration and progression to Higher Education; therefore this course is crucial to support people who are considering higher education and are not sure if it is the right choice for them. Most of the students that attend the course are from the local area; 70% of them living in Stoke-on-Trent itself. This course allows people to see that higher education is an option without finance being a barrier.

I can see how this course makes a real difference, transforming peoples’ lives, year after year. I’m fortunate enough to watch people develop over the ten weeks, right from the moment that they first walk through the door to meet us in the university to when they complete the course, gaining confidence throughout. Last academic year (2012-2013), 70% of the students who passed Step Up to HE progressed directly onto the start of a degree in September 2013 at Staffordshire University. It is absolutely fantastic seeing students like Yvonne enjoying studying and finally graduating at the end of their Undergraduate Award, knowing that I have helped to support them at one point in their journey to where they are now.

Toby Lucas, Tutor of Step Up to HE at Staffordshire University