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Norfolk students design their own university

Apple on books

Schoolchildren from across Norfolk have been encouraged to consider the benefits of going on to higher education – by creating their own university. The Year 10 pupils are all on the Norfolk Scholars Programme, run by Villiers Park Educational Trust and the University of East Anglia (UEA) to encourage children from lower income families to reach their full potential.

The 26 students, from six of the schools on the programme, were given a £10 million budget to build a new university during a two-day residential course on 9-11 November, then held an open day, with their teachers and course leaders acting as potential undergraduates.

“We wanted the scholars to consider what was important to them when they apply to university in a few years’ time,” said Laura Anderson, Norfolk Scholars Programme Manager, UEA. “This included the quality of teaching, the range and content of courses, the facilities, partnerships with companies, qualifications available and tuition fees. They were also asked to take the importance of marketing, recruitment of staff and student satisfaction into account to create a successful university.”

“We had to make a convincing argument about why our university was unique and should be chosen,” said one student. Another added: “I really liked the teamwork aspect as I got to make new friends and challenge myself into being confident enough to present.”

Jo Gurvidi, Assistant Programme Director, Villiers Park Educational Trust, said: “Students visibly grew in confidence during their stay, developing a wide range of core skills. Most significantly, myths about university were dispelled. The course included a tour of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where undergraduates answered their questions and our scholars realised that applying there, or to other universities, is a real possibility for them.”

110 local schoolchildren have benefitted from the programme since it began in 2015.