University of Leicester eBulletin

'Youngest Ever' Pupils Experience University Life

May 2003
No 110

[Photo: Mini Ace Day visitors in University of Leicester planetarium]

Pupils as young as 10 recently experienced life at the University of Leicester - at the request of their schools.

A total of sixty children as well as their parents and teachers visited the University on Wednesday, April 30, and were involved in tours, practical sessions and advice talks.

The initiative is part of the University's Widening Participation programme where children from a variety of backgrounds experience University life, particularly if they are the first generation in their families thinking of university.

Widening participation leader Herabans Kaur said: "Opening doors to learning is a key element of the University's mainstream activities and we have extended opportunities for the first time to students as young as this.

"They were invited onto campus because we believe it is never too early to engage in raising aspirations. This sentiment is echoed by the schools that these pupils attend. The participating students were identified by the schools as those most likely to benefit from such an input and we hope that awareness raising will link to aspiration raising.

"It is also essential that we engage parents in the process of awareness raising. In many families decisions about going to university is a family one, particularly as parents may be required to support their offspring. It is therefore important that advice is available to parents and that they can view the facilities on offer to students."

Four junior schools participated in this first Mini ACE Day for the University of Leicester -  in total 60 Year 5 students from schools in the local community - Highfields Primary School, Uplands Junior School, Shenton Primary School and Sparkenhoe Community Primary School attended.

Ms Kaur added: "The University recognises the need for an holistic approach to widening participation and also invited the parents of the participating students to sample University life on the same day. 

"We have facilitated the two events tailored to meet the specific needs of the two groups. For example, the Parents programme of events includes tours of accommodation, a talk on finances, as well as the chance to chat informally with members of the Admissions Office and current students. The Year 5 students, on the other hand, will have a programme of interactive activities to engage and retain their interest including  poster making activities, ice breaker sessions, tours of campus and a visit to the Planetarium in the Physics and Astronomy Department.

"The schools and the University believe this will be a valuable and learning experience for all those involved, helping to break down barriers and misconceptions commonly associated with higher education. 

For further information please contact Herabans Kaur on 0116 252 5349.

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Information supplied by: Barbara Whiteman
Last updated: May 2003
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