The Minister for Universities and Skills, David Willetts MP, announced today that funding for the Aimhigher programme would cease in July 2011.
Commenting on the announcement Sir Alan Langlands, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said that the priority now is to ensure that the valuable lessons learnt from Aimhigher can be built upon for the benefit of future learners.
Sir Alan said:
'Raising aspirations and delivering effective Information, advice and guidance about higher education remain critical if we are to maintain the progress made in widening participation. Aimhigher has played a pivotal role in brokering effective partnerships between higher education institutions, schools, academies and colleges. The partnerships developed by Aimhigher have been the proving ground for innovative outreach activity which has encouraged young people to aspire to higher education.
'We must thank our colleagues in Aimhigher partnerships who have been committed to widening participation in higher education and improving the life chances of so many young people. It is clear that the Government and higher education institutions remain firmly committed to supporting wider and fairer access and we will continue to work with both to promote further progress including through access agreements and the proposed national scholarship programme.'
The Aimhigher programme encompasses a wide range of activities to engage and motivate learners who have the potential to enter higher education, but may be under-achieving, undecided or lacking in confidence.
The programme particularly focuses on children from schools from lower socio-economic groups and those from disadvantaged backgrounds who live in areas of relative deprivation where participation in higher education is low.
The programme is jointly funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, HEFCE, the Skills Funding Agency and the Department of Health.
Earlier this year HEFCE, published research (see note 5) showing that over the past five years young people living in the most disadvantaged areas have become 30 per cent more likely to enter higher education. The Aimhigher programme has encouraged such students and helped them and their families gain a better understanding of what higher education can offer.