Ulster University, in collaboration with three UK partner universities, has secured £420,000 to raise aspirations and enhance employability of students from communities frequently under-represented in higher education.
Supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s (HEFCE) Catalyst Fund, Ulster University will scale up employability initiatives to tackle barriers to success for black and minority ethnic students, those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, as well as disabled, mature and part-time students.
Ulster University will target these student groups with a range of employability initiatives including the Global Ambassadors Scheme, which allows undergraduates to take part in international work or study. Participation in the Scheme gives students the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge on an international stage, making them hugely attractive to employers operating in a global environment.
As part of the funding, the University will also enhance its delivery of accredited employability modules that provide student with practical support in relation to their personal and professional development. The project also aims to increase engagement of target student groups in work placement activities to enhance their first-hand experience of industry and career prospects.
Ulster University will deliver the 18-month initiative in partnership with project lead, Aston University, along with Birmingham City University and University of London. Each university will share best practice, learning from successes and introducing new evidence-based programmes trialed and tested in partner institutions.
Ulster University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, Professor Paul Bartholomew, said:
“Ulster University is committed to raising ambitions and transforming lives regardless of students’ backgrounds. Placing employability at the heart of the student experience, we are recognised in the Top 10 UK Universities for widening access to higher education. This funding will further support our efforts to enhance graduate attainment levels and employability prospects of students from under-represented groups.”
HEFCE Chief Executive, Madeleine Atkins added:
“The significant response from higher education providers to this funding call demonstrates their commitment to ensuring all students benefit from a vibrant, inclusive, world-class higher education experience.
“Funding this programme will support real progress towards closing the unacceptable differences in outcomes between groups of students. We look forward to working with providers to make sure this targeted, evidence-led investment maximises outcomes for students, contributing to improved productivity and social mobility and, of course, individual opportunities.”