Trinity College Cambridge and Villiers Park Educational Trust are delighted to announce a new partnership with the aim of increasing participation in higher education from underrepresented and disadvantaged young people in Hastings.
The partnership will focus on working with young people from less advantaged backgrounds in the coastal East Sussex town, an education Opportunity Area with very low levels of participation in higher education.
With support from the College, part of the University of Cambridge, national social mobility charity Villiers Park will work with hundreds of 14- to 19-year-olds on its pioneering Future Leaders programme.
Alex Grant, Villiers Park’s Assistant Director for Hastings and Bexhill, said: “Progression to university from coastal areas such as Hastings has often proved challenging. The Future Leaders programme helps our young people to develop pathways, personal to them, which shift talk of university away from being an aspiration to becoming a future that seems realistic and attainable.
“Working in partnership with Trinity College will support our Future Leaders to see that some of the world's most competitive courses and institutions are a part of their reality.”
Riyadh, 18, is a student at Ark Alexandra Academy in Hastings. He has been supported by Villiers Park. He said: “Being a part of the Villiers Park Future Leaders programme gave me the opportunity to put myself forward to new schemes that I would otherwise have been unaware of. It was through the programme that I came to know of Trinity College’s annual Stonehouse Residential.
"Upon successfully applying, I was able to benefit from meeting an exceptional group of like-minded students, intelligent academic speakers and friendly outreach staff. The experience definitely helped demystify rumours around UCAS, university and what it means to apply to the best institutions in the country.”
Future Leaders, introduced in 2020, aims to support young people aged 14-19 in developing self-efficacy and agency in their own futures, and to equip them with the skills, experiences and motivation they need to become leaders in their chosen field.
Trinity will also support Villiers Park’s development of an Early Entry Programme to support students from disadvantaged groups with aspirations to progress to leading universities such as Oxford and Cambridge.
The announcement marks the continuation of a successful partnership between Trinity College and Villiers Park, which have collaborated since 2016.
Head of Outreach at Trinity, Jon Datta, said: “Trinity is committed to reaching out to areas of the UK where participation in higher education is low and where people face far higher barriers to improved social mobility than elsewhere in the UK.
“Hastings, like other coastal areas, has large numbers of pupils from lower socio-economic backgrounds and research shows that students are less likely to enter university as those in the UK’s urban areas.
“We are pleased to collaborate with Villiers Park Educational Trust in engaging with young people through their new Future Leaders programme - this innovative partnership brings Villiers Park’s expertise together with Trinity’s access staff and student ambassadors in pioneering ways that will help change perceptions, break down barriers, and equip students to take the next step in their education and careers.”
Rae Tooth, Chief Executive at Villiers Park, said: “I am very excited about this new partnership, which brings together the strengths of both Trinity College Cambridge and Villiers Park to make the biggest possible difference to the significant challenges of social justice in the UK.
“The College has worked in real partnership with us to develop this cutting-edge programme. Hastings has some of the lowest levels of entry into higher education in the UK, and yet its young people are no less bright or less ambitious for the fulfilling lives they want to live. Working with Trinity College, we can ensure that they have the skills, knowledge and experiences to thrive and fulfil those ambitions.”
The College will also contribute high-quality subject content from its world-leading academics to Villiers Park’s Launchpad online learning platform. It will help introduce young people to higher education by working with Villiers Park to offer them access to student ambassadors, campus visits and taster lectures, as well as supporting them in making the transition from school or college to university. Trinity College will also support events in Hastings for young people taking the Future Leaders programme.