UniFest is a programme of residential summer schools offered by 5 universities in the West Midlands:
- Aston University
- Birmingham City University
- University College Birmingham
- University of Birmingham
- University of Worcester.
UniFest is for year 10 students with the potential to be considering higher education who face certain barriers, and need information, advice and support to aspire, attain and plan for progression.
How does attending help students?
UniFest 2017 gave over 270 disadvantaged students the opportunity to explore the world of higher education and make informed decisions about their future. By the end of their UniFest experience, 96.1% felt that they "understand what life would be like at university / higher education" and 95.4% felt that it had improved their motivation to succeed at school.
You can read the UniFest 2017 Evaluation Report here:
How can my students get involved?
The UniFest 2018 programme will open for applications in January. We anticipate high demand so please encourage your students to apply ASAP to avoid disappointment!
Things to bear in mind
UniFest is a targeted programme. Universities must ensure places are offered to young people who meet certain criteria, using a weighted system to identify and prioritise applicants based on information about their backgrounds gathered as part of the application process.
|Disadvantaged home postcode*||1|
|Eligible for Free School Meals / FSM6 / Pupil Premium or the 16-19 Bursary||1|
|No parental experience of higher education||7|
|Parents / carers unemployed or in semi-skilled / manual occupations*||1|
|Disability and/or learning difficulty||7|
|Children in Care||7|
Although we do not weight or select by gender we would like to remind you that boys are underrepresented in higher education. When identifying students for UniFest it would be very helpful if colleagues in mixed gender schools could encourage boys to consider the opportunity, and aim to submit a gender balanced number of applications.
How does attending benefit young people?
Aimhigher summer schools have operated for many years, and local and national evaluations show that attending helps young people become motivated and confident about their learning and progression. Young people attending summer schools are known to have better KS4 and KS5 attainment, and higher levels of entry to higher education than those who do not attend.
Is there a cost?
We are delighted to announce that the 2018 UniFest programme will be offered free of charge to participating schools. However, if a learner drops out on or after 1st June 2018, fails to attend, leaves an event early or is excluded for breaching the UniFest Code of Conduct a £200 charge will be levied to their school.
What about supervision and safeguarding?
Schools do not need to supervise young people on residential UniFest events. The universities take full responsibility for safeguarding, and will liaise directly with parents/carers to agree transport/hand-over arrangements etc. This includes inviting all successful applicants and their parents/carers to an on-campus information evening in advance of their event. Aimhigher universities operate comprehensive safeguarding, child protection and health and safety policies and procedures. They will undertake risk assessments for all events and activities, and make these available to you for assurance purposes. For more information please view our UniFest Safeguarding pages.
What about transport?
Universities liaise directly with young people and their parents/carers about travel arrangements, and reimburse all reasonable transport costs for the pre-event information evening and the residential itself.
Events are term-time. Why should applicants miss school or college?
If UniFest clashes with activities at your school please consider the best interests of the young person. UniFest may be more beneficial than work experience for someone who is considering higher education rather than employment or training options.
What about Ramadan?
UniFest takes place in the summer term and events may coincide with Ramadan. Male and female prayer facilities will be available to Muslim students, but the intensive and highly participatory nature of the 3 day experience means young people attending some events will be asked not to fast during the event, and make penance with additional fast days afterwards. Full details of the arrangements for Ramadan at each event are included in the UniFest Prospectus.
Is there any flexibility on age groups?
UniFest is designed for year 10 students only.
What should I put in my supporting statement?
Please include any information on the young person's background and how attending will benefit them. If a young person does not meet our criteria they may still gain a place if they have exceptional needs.
What if learners drop out?
Aimhigher will do all we can to minimise drop out before events, but it is inevitable in a small number of cases. Participating schools and colleges are making an investment in UniFest, and to ensure you obtain full value we strongly advise you to:
- Actively support applicants in the period between places being offered and events taking place, and reinforce the importance of attending
- Notify Aimhigher immediately if a young person withdraws or is at risk of withdrawing…direct contact between the university, the applicant and their family can often help reassure and overcome any worries or concerns
- Identify reserve applicants to fill any vacated places.
Aimhigher will work closely with you to try to ensure all your places are filled. However, if a learner drops out on or after 1st June, fails to attend, leaves an event early or is excluded for breaching the UniFest Code of Conduct a £200 charge will be levied to their school.
What if events are cancelled?
All UniFest events require a minimum number of confirmed applications to run. We assess event level demand after the closing date for applications and if an event is at risk we may use applicants' eligibility level and their 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th choices to spread demand more evenly. If despite this an event does not achieve sufficient numbers we reserve the right to cancel it.
Contact for more information?
Mike Thompson, Aimhigher West Midlands Coordinator:
- Telephone: 0121 415 8176
- Mobile: 07887 821 249