Perceptions of higher education and higher and degree apprenticeships

Kelly Kettlewell, Tami McCrone and Suzanne Straw

02 July 2019

The National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP) consists of 29 local consortia aiming to rapidly increase the number of young people from under-represented groups progressing into higher education (HE) across England. Make Happen, the NCOP consortium based in Essex, commissioned NFER to explore young people’s views regarding HE and higher and degree apprenticeships, the barriers they may face in progressing into these routes and their views on different activities to raise aspirations. We visited six schools, one college and a university in Essex to undertake focus groups with students and interviews with staff.

Key Findings

  • Parents and family members have the greatest influence on study and career aspirations. The influence of parents highlights the importance of parents being informed of the different options open to their children in order that they can have informed discussions with their children.
  • Most students were positive about university and could talk about the perceived benefits and challenges of studying at university. In contrast, students lacked sufficient knowledge of higher and degree apprenticeships to talk confidently about these options.
  • The activities perceived to be most effective at raising aspirations were those that allowed students to gain experiences of the outside world. These allowed students to gain real life experiences, which they may not otherwise have had, and helped to dispel stereotypes and raise aspirations.
  • Staff believed Make Happen was having a positive impact on students’ aspirations, with those schools most engaged in Make Happen reporting the greatest impact. Staff felt that Make Happen enabled them to reach more students than they could afford to do otherwise and offer a wider variety of activities.

Sponsor Details

The National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP)