Aimhigher West Midlands has secured £4.5 million from the Higher Education Funding Council England’s (HEFCE) National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP) to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds access higher education.

The scheme will deliver a wide range of university masterclasses, summer schools and taster days, and support to pupils from 25 wards across Birmingham, Solihull, Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and Sandwell.

More than 100 undergraduates and graduate ambassadors will be trained to work as mentors and role models for up to 5,000 young people in schools and colleges in the target wards.

Mike Thompson, Aimhigher West Midlands Manager said:

By working together our partners will make a real difference to the lives of disadvantaged young people from families with no experience of higher education or the professions.  Currently only 4 per cent of doctors, 6 per cent of barristers and 11 per cent of journalists are from working class backgrounds. 

‘National evaluations have repeatedly shown that exploring higher education and being mentored by a university student can boost a young person’s motivation to succeed, improve their exam results and increase their chances of entering a rewarding, secure and professional career. This is our chance to make a difference.’

The funding will enable project workers to intensify outreach in areas of the region where the progression of young people to higher education is very low, despite relatively good GCSE outcomes. 

The initiative was established by HEFCE in response to the government’s goals to double the proportion of disadvantaged young people entering higher education (HE) by 2020, to increase by 20 percent the number of students in HE from ethnic minority groups, and to address the under-representation of young men from disadvantaged backgrounds in HE.

The successful bid was led by the University of Birmingham on behalf of Aimhigher West Midlands.

Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Birmingham, said:

‘As a partner of Aimhigher West Midlands, we are extremely proud to have played a role in sustaining regional collaborative outreach following the loss of the nationally funded Aimhigher initiative. This new funding from HEFCE as part of the NCOP represents a significant opportunity for the partnership to expand its work, and we at the University of Birmingham look forward to collaborating with all the other partners of Aimhigher West Midlands to improve social mobility in some of the most hard-pressed communities of our region.’

The NCOP initiative will commence on 1st January 2017, with the first phase of the programme running until December 2018.    <ENDS>


For more information, contact Rebecca Hume, Communications Manager at the University of Birmingham Press Office, on +44 (0)121 414 9041. For out of hours media enquiries, please call: +44 (0)7789 921 165.

Notes to editors

About Aimhigher West Midlands:

  • Aimhigher West Midlands is a partnership of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), schools, academies and colleges. Together, these partners aim to ensure that young people from less advantaged backgrounds have access to high quality, exciting and challenging experiences that enhance their careers education, motivate, inspire and provide accurate and impartial information, advice and guidance about higher education.
  • For more information, visit

About HEFCE’s National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP):

  • The programme will support consortia of HE providers, schools, colleges and other organisations to deliver programmes of collaborative outreach in specific local areas where HE participation is low overall and lower than expected given GCSE attainment levels.
  • The programme will run from 2016-17 to 2019-20. Funding will be provided for two years in the first instance, from January 2017 to December 2018. Funding for a further two years, to December 2020 will be subject to consortia making satisfactory progress towards meeting the Government’s goals.
  • For more information, visit

About the University of Birmingham:

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 5,000 international students from over 150 countries.