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8 June 2009

National celebration of Aimhigher gets under way

A week to highlight the considerable breadth and success of Aimhigher activity across the country is launched today.

Aimhigher Week runs from 8-12 June and is a national celebration of the Aimhigher programme which is funded by HEFCE and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). During the week there will be over 100 events and activities taking place locally and nationally to highlight the work being done by local Aimhigher Partnerships and to signpost the information, advice and guidance available to prospective higher education (HE) students.

A BIS event will be held at the QEII Centre, Westminster, on Tuesday 9 June, to share experiences amongst young people and professionals from across the Aimhigher partnerships. It will showcase a range of Aimhigher activities, with experience from schools, colleges and university staff as well as the testimonies of young people who have taken part in the Aimhigher programme.

The Week also celebrates the recently launched national phase of the Aimhigher Associates programme which will be rolled out to more than 21,000 learners throughout England from September this year. The roll-out follows successful pilots across the country that involved 1,380 undergraduate 'Associates' mentoring 7,227 younger learners.

John Selby, Director of Education and Participation, HEFCE, said:

'The breadth and variety of the Aimhigher programme is considerable. Aimhigher’s work is co-ordinated by 44 partnerships which work to bring together schools, colleges, academies and higher education institutions. Together they offer a series of inspirational activities to young people who might not otherwise aspire to enter higher education. The activities range from summer schools to roadshows, and mentoring to masterclasses, and reach thousands of young people each year. For example between 2003 and 2008, 41,000 participants attended over 1,300 summer schools and during term time the roadshow reaches more than 500 young people in schools and colleges every day.

'The Aimhigher programme is a well established and important medium for change and is central to the efforts of widening participation in higher education. I am delighted to see it celebrated through Aimhigher Week and look forward to opening the event on 9 June.'


Jointly funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Aimhigher programme is an initiative in England to increase participation in HE by under-represented groups, particularly young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

The Aimhigher programme was originally established as Excellence Challenge in 2001 and was then integrated with the widening participation programme: Partnerships for Progression in August 2004. Since then Aimhigher has sought to deliver a coherent national outreach programme across the country and funding is secured until 2011.