Rising number of Gosport students take university challenge

Saint Vincent
Saint Vincent
Promoted by St Vincent College

Increasing numbers of Gosport students are heading to university, thanks to a strong links between schools and college

More Gosport students than ever are going to university, despite falling national figures, it has emerged.

St Vincent College has reported year-on-year increases in the number of its students progressing to university for the last five years.

It comes as the number of UK applications has slumped, with recent UCAS data revealing applications for some universities is down six per cent – a drop of more than 8000 students – on last year’s figures.

The upswing in Gosport is being linked to a concerted approach between schools and colleges to raise the aspirations of young students. The strategy has resulted in many becoming the first in their family to make the step up to university education.

“Schools and colleges have been working much harder to raise the aspirations of students,” said Andy Grant, assistant principal at St Vincent College, who also puts part of the success down to a more flexible approach and a focus on supporting students on an individual basis.

“We are encouraging them to see beyond what has gone before them. Many of the students are the first ones in their families that have gone to university.

“It is also about educating them on the benefits of university – higher salaries, longer career prospects, bringing skills back into the community.”

In the past, only 10 per cent of Gosport pupils have gone on to study at university compared to around 80 per cent in other parts of Hampshire.

The rising figures are the result of a five year strategy designed to encourage more young people to make the move to higher education.

Mr Grant added: “It really has been a five-year journey. The number of students has gone up year-on-year since then.

“One of the ways we do that is by hosting a higher-education fair. Although it is mainly for our students, we also have pupils from each of the feeder schools coming.

“Each school will be bringing around 30 to 50 pupils who will be able to speak to universities about the benefits of higher education.”

Another way Mr Grant believes local colleges have boosted university enrolment is by offering flexible programmes of study and supporting students who missed out on the grades they wanted at school.

“A lot of students come to college without the grades that they need to do Level 3,” he said. “For those students we offer a three-year programme of study. One year is Level 2 and we make sure we get their English and maths. Then the next two years are Level 3.

“It is about giving them the confidence to move up to Level 3.”

The upswing in university places for local students comes as St Vincent College marks its 30th anniversary this year.

Mr Grant added that a “very strong” access programme at St Vincent has enabled students over the age of 19 who may have missed out on grades in the past, to prepare for university.

However he stressed: “University isn’t for everyone and it is important to have something in place so all the students reach their full potential – whether that is a degree, apprenticeship or going to work.”

Rising numbers of students making the move into university education can bring a range of benefits, both personal and economic.

“The fact that more students in Gosport are going to university, often the first people in their family to do so, can only be a positive for the town,” added Mr Grant.

“The students will come back with a higher education, bringing new skills for employment and new experience.

“It is important we are part of that.”

St Vincent College in Mill Lane, Gosport, is hosting open evenings on Tuesday, October 10, and Wednesday, November 15.

For more information visit www.stvincent.ac.uk