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UPP Foundation awards £100,000 of new grants to tackle pressing issues in HE

Richard Brabner, Director of the UPP Foundation

@UPP_Foundation the registered charity founded by University Partnerships Programme (UPP), has invested £100,000 in grant funding for five pilot projects – to be delivered by charities and universities.

The projects were selected by Trustees of the UPP Foundation following the submission of almost 50 applications – the highest number that the Charity has received to date.

The UPP Foundation has awarded five grants for charities and universities to: 

  • Help homeless students gain access to university (University of Chichester)
  • Provide tuition for young people to retake English and Maths GCSEs (Get Further)
  • Encourage and support students to remain and contribute to their local economy (The Bridge Group) 
  • Host work placements for international postgraduate students with SMEs (University of Manchester)
  • Engage the public in developing a civic university agreement (Goldsmiths, University of London)

The five pilot projects were chosen on the basis of their overall quality, synergy with the UPP Foundation’s strategic themes, commitment to partnership, innovative approach and potential for sector-wide impact.

These grants were approved prior to the commencement of the Government’s ‘social distancing’ measures to combat the spread of Covid-19 (Coronavirus). These measures are likely to delay the implementation of those projects which involve a significant degree of social interaction. The UPP Foundation will support each grant recipient during this difficult period to ensure that the projects can be completed at a time suitable to them. Information on how the individual programmes will be affected by Covid-19 can be found below.

The outcomes of the pilots will be shared, when possible, across higher education so that best practice can be embedded across the sector.

Richard Brabner, Director of the UPP Foundation, said:

“In awarding the grant funding, we are confident that the proposed pilot projects will incubate new ideas to help address some of the biggest issues in the HE sector. They will help the most disadvantaged individuals gain access to university, better understand ways to improve graduate outcomes for UK and international students and measure the overall impact universities have on their local communities. These projects to support and develop our communities are more important than ever in light of the developing Covid-19 crisis. We will be working closely with the grant recipients to support them during these exceptionally challenging times, and to help implement their projects once it becomes safe to do so.”

The UPP Foundation has signed a joint statement with over three hundred other funders, pledging to support grant recipients during this challenging period, such as providing financial and reporting flexibility, and adapting activities to overcome current challenges. 

University of Chichester – Nine homeless students being helped into HE

  • Last year the University of Chichester developed an innovative pilot course that gave five local homeless people the skills required to succeed in Higher Education (HE). All five participants are now studying for a degree.
  • The UPP Foundation’s funding will expand the pilot in 2020 – supporting a further nine of the most vulnerable people in society to regain their independence and realise their potential.
  • Impact of Covid-19 – Students involved with the project have moved to online learning. Although this presents new challenges, the team at the University of Chichester are determined to support the students through this period and enable them to transition to undergraduate study next year.

Get Further – 100 students to receive ‘catch-up’ GCSE tuition

  • Missing out on a GCSE English and Maths qualification can hold young people back for the rest of their lives.
  • Funding from the UPP Foundation will expand Get Further’s post-16 ‘catch-up’ tuition programme in FE Colleges, so that 100 additional young people who fail their English or Maths GCSE the first time are given support to successfully retake and move on to the next stage of their education. 
  • Impact of Covid-19 – Tutoring has been temporarily halted following the Government’s cancellation of public examinations, and will start again in the autumn to prepare students who decide to take the rescheduled GCSEs.

The Bridge Group – Graduate retention study to drive social equality

  • Geographical mobility is often considered a pre-requisite for social mobility. This is problematic for social equality as wealthier students and graduates are more likely – and able – to move for study and work.
  • The UPP Foundation is funding the Bridge Group to undertake research into the experiences of graduates who choose to remain local. The aim of the research will be to determine  if, and how, ‘staying local’ contributes to graduates’ success, and provide new methods for describing and measuring that success in the context of social mobility.
  • Impact of Covid-19 – Publication of the final report will be delayed to either side of the new year, and this will include research which asks graduates how coronavirus is impacting their efforts to find employment.

University of Manchester – Twenty international students to benefit from SME placements 

  • With the recent change to the post-study work visa, international students will be looking to get good jobs in the UK after graduation.
  • The UPP Foundation has awarded funding to the University of Manchester to pilot a placement project to enhance the employability of international students. Twenty international postgraduate students will complete three to six month paid placements with a Small to Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) in the Greater Manchester area, with the placements contributing to their final degree classification.
  • Impact of Covid-19 – The project has been temporarily postponed, to ensure that participants on the scheme can benefit fully from their placements. 

Goldsmiths, University of London – Helping universities enhance their ‘civic role’

  • Goldsmiths, University of London, will be developing a ‘co-production’ model with the local community which will enable them to measure the impact of their civic engagement. This model will be published as an open access tool, enabling other universities to replicate this best-practice approach.
  • Impact of Covid-19 – The project will be able to continue as planned, as all qualitative aspects of the research were completed prior to the Government’s announcement of social distancing measures.
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