Leicestershire's three universities have teamed together to bring the benefits of higher education to a bigger audience.
The University of Leicester, Loughborough University and De Montfort University have been working collaboratively with the Leicester City Cluster of schools and colleges, and with Further Education colleges and others, to provide Taster Courses across a variety of subject areas.
Widening Participation officer Herbans Kaur said: "Taster Courses are offered to Year 12 students and aim to give prospective Higher Education applicants the opportunity to experience being a student for two days.
"Most courses include an introduction to what the university offers in a particular subject area, allowing students to experience university lectures and seminars. Students also get the opportunity to discuss their worries and concerns about university life with current undergraduates.
"Research has shown that 70% of students undertaking Taster Courses are from families where their parents or siblings have no knowledge or experience of higher education. More specifically, in 1999, of the 630 students taking part in Leicestershire, 70% said they had no family member who had been to university, however, 84% indicated that they intended to apply to higher education in the future.
Ms Kaur added: "In many instances, Taster Courses offer the first 'real' taste of HE, helping to dispel misconceptions and breakdown perceived barriers."
The Widening Participation Consortium is committed to expanding Taster Courses within local universities in order to redress the balance in terms of social inclusion in HE generally, but also within specific disciplines/ subject areas. Taster Courses offer the ideal format in which to raise awareness and engage interest and more importantly facilitate informed decision making for prospective undergraduates.
This year Taster Courses are to take place on 4 and 5 May. 24 departments across De Montfort, Leicester and Loughborough Universities will be taking part.
Said Ms Kaur: "The universities offer these courses without any obligation on the student to apply to that university. The idea is to give students a chance to try out higher education on a small scale so that they can see what it is like and make decisions about their own future. The detailed programmes have been distributed to schools and colleges and students are now making their course choices."
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