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ACE Day for widening participation

"This is the real world", commented one of the visitors from Leicestershire schools and colleges after participating in an Aiming for a College Education (ACE) Day at the University of Leicester...

Altogether 56 young people from the William Bradford Community College, Fulhurst Community College and Rushey Mead School took the chance to experience an ACE Day at the University of Leicester on Tuesday, March 4, 2003.

Widening Participation Leader Herabans Kaur, from the University's Admissions Office said: "The aim of an ACE Day is to give an overview of a university education to young people, some of whom are academically able but who come from families with no history of continuing education.

The programme featured several activities in which the young people had to demonstrate skills such as teamwork, presentation, communication and interpersonal skills. The ACE Day is also a really good opportunity to learn something about the life of a student. "...Especially when you are placed in a team consisting of people you don't know and you have to work together and talk to each other!" said student ambassador Kim Ruddock, referring to the Legomania ice-breaker session in which those present were divided into eight mixed groups, each with no more than three students from the same school/college. 

Their task was to rebuild a model of Lego pieces. A further complication was that the model was placed outside the room and only one member of each group could take a look at any one time!  [Photo: University of Leicester ACE Day participants]

The result was that the young people had to discuss and plan how to put the pieces together and overcome any fears to communicate although they had never met before.

After that 'icebreaking' task the student ambassadors took their teams around the campus to show them the most important buildings and to give further information on what a student's life is all about. [Photo: Young people on campus for ACE Day]

Dr Woodward, a lecturer in the University's Department of Chemistry, gave a short but informative lecture focusing on the four main areas of a student's work: lectures, self-study, tutorials and practicals.

Important to students - at least in the first year at university - is accommodation. The young people visited student accommodation at nearby Nixon Court. "Very tiny, but nice", said Stephanie Barton from the William Bradford Community College, looking in one of the rooms.

The last task for the young people on their ACE Day was to produce and present to the whole group a poster summarising their impression of student life at the University of Leicester. Most identified four main topics: education, sports activities, accommodation, and meeting new friends of different cultures.

"This is the real world. It is important that young people get a realistic impression of what a student's life is like and that university isn't out of reach. I hope this day encourages my pupils to work hard in the next two years and make it to university", said Francine Rubbali, a teacher at Fulhurst Community College after the very successful day.

"It was fun because you get to know lots of new people and information on the University of Leicester", enthused Shradana Riddhi Parma of Rushey Mead School. "It was a very informative day. I learnt a lot about facilities on campus and the very affordable accommodation", said Amy Kenney of William Bradford Community College.

Most of the pupils hadn't been on a visit to a university before, so it's not surprising that so many of them enjoyed their ACE Day at the University of Leicester and would certainly recommend it to their friends to join an ACE Day if the opportunity arises.

Carsten Brandt

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Last updated: 28 March 2003 15:00
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