Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000


Universify Education is a charity committed to educational equality. We aim to open access to higher education for Year 10 students from non-selective state schools in low participation areas, transforming their likelihood of applying to highly selective universities, including Oxbridge. Our vision is a higher education system which is more diverse and inclusive.

The Sutton Trust writes that “the proportion of pupils from ‘low affluence’ households (61%) intending to attend university is the lowest in seven years for which we have data, and the socioeconomic gap in likelihood between high and low affluence households is also the highest it has been”. Universify Education aims to close that gap by ensuring students from low affluence households in the UK are given the opportunity and information they need to make an informed decision about higher education.

To achieve our aims, we run a free year-long programme with 3 key elements:
1. 1 Week-long Summer Residential - hosted at a college of the University of Oxford. Students are given first-hand experience of student life at a high demand university, experiencing university-style teaching and new academic subjects alongside social and cultural activities.
2. Academic coaching - Students are paired up with trained volunteer coaches, receiving 1-to-1 coaching with a view to raising aspirations, goal setting and improving confidence. Coaching continues remotely throughout the year so students can seek their coach’s advice as they approach their GCSEs, reassess goals and celebrate progress.
3. 3-day residential at Easter - students return to the university of Oxford for an exam preparation weekend. Revision classes are delivered in core subjects, with general exam technique guidance from experienced tutors. An “Alternative Careers Fair” offers insight into the possibilities university can provide, and the variety of interesting careers students can pursue in the future. Students are also introduced to access programmes available to older age groups such as UNIQ and the Sutton Trust, which should enhance the long-term effects of attending Universify.

We are halfway through our second year of the course, with 79 students from across the UK enrolled on the summer course in 2017. Our programme is delivered by a team of dedicated volunteers, who are all current or recent university students, trained as coaches. In our first two years we have been fortunate to work with almost 40 fantastic volunteer coaches to deliver our programme to over 100 students.

We are committed to measuring our impact, and engaged an independent evaluator to design our impact measurement strategy built into the programme; this is crucial to assessing how successfully Universify achieves its goal of countering educational inequality through increased educational aspiration, attainment and successful applications to highly selective universities.
Initial research in our 2016 Impact Report found a 78% increase in students ‘very likely’ to apply to a highly selective university and a 90% decrease in students ‘not very likely’ to apply. We changed students’ perceptions of university life: students replaced ideas of university as ‘busy’ and ‘stressful’ with the idea that it was a place of ‘independence’ and ‘learning’.

Our ability to expand our reach to as many students as possible is closely linked to having access to funds to cover additional operational overheads. The Aviva Community fund would allow us to cover the cost of an additional part-time staff member to join the Universify team. As Universify is expanding quickly, additional staff are needed to help plan for the future and build partnerships with more colleges and universities where we can deliver our programme in future years. With their input we would be able to grow Universify to reach more students across the country as we aim to inspire students from non-traditional backgrounds to fulfil their potential in higher education.

Project Video

Universify Education

Moment of Pride

When student feedback says ‘I had the best week of my life’ and '[Universify] has massively helped me grow as a person’ you realise what an amazing opportunity Universify offers. Something empowering students to grow and change their lives for the better and something you can only be proud of.

Location: Oxford