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New learning centre to support young people officially launches in Newcastle

16th March 2022

A new learning centre launched in Newcastle is set to empower thousands of young people to achieve their academic and career ambitions.

The centre in Walker is a collaboration between Northumbria and Newcastle Universities and national education charity IntoUniversity to provide additional educational support to those aged 7-18. It will connect many young people, who may never have dreamed of going to university, with two leading Higher Education Institutions, providing opportunities to support their learning and nurture their ambitions.

IntoUniversity Newcastle East is the first IntoUniversity education centre to open in the North East and is based at the Monkchester Community Centre in Walker, Newcastle.

Working closely with local schools and the universities, the centre offers long-term support to young people, including after-school academic support, mentoring with university students and local professionals, in-school aspiration-raising workshops and enrichment and work experience opportunities. Once established, the centre will support over 1000 students per year.

66% of school leavers who attended IntoUniversity centres in 2021 went on to progress to university, compared with 26.6% of students from similar backgrounds nationally.

Around 30 students aged 7-18 who are set to benefit from the centre for the next academic year and beyond, along with their parents and guardians, attended the launch event with some of them delivering speeches.

Harmony, age 11, spoke at the official launch event last week about a recent week-long aspiration-raising workshop that she had taken part in with IntoUniversity with her class at Byker Primary: “During the FOCUS Week, my class spent time thinking about what we would like to be when we are older. I wrote that when I grow up I want to study at Northumbria University to study Theatre and Performing Arts because I love singing, dancing and acting. At the end of the FOCUS week, we had a graduation at Newcastle University to celebrate that we learnt so much in one week.”

Vice-chancellors from both Northumbria and Newcastle Universities also spoke about the collaboration at the launch event.

Professor Andrew Wathey, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University said: “Northumbria University has a strong and long-standing commitment to widening access and engaging with our local communities.  We recognise our role in broadening routes into higher education for children and young people in our city.

“We are proud to be working jointly with our partners IntoUniversity and Newcastle University to provide this new learning centre, where academic support, mentoring and careers advice will help young people to realise their potential and achieve their ambitions.”

Professor Chris Day, Vice-Chancellor and President of Newcastle University said: “IntoUniversity Newcastle East is set to be a genuinely life-changing experience for up to a thousand young people every year.

“In common with IntoUniversity, Newcastle University has an outstanding record of raising aspiration and providing vital support and learning for children and young people who might not otherwise have access to the opportunities they need to enable them to fulfil their potential. 

“Through our involvement in this new Centre, we will be able to enhance our essential outreach activity by delivering aspiration-raising workshops and mentoring to children and young people in their heart of their own community.”

Adil, age 14, spoke about receiving a mentor at the centre: “It is great having a Mentor because I get one-to-one help from an adult to support me with academic, social and future development. In our Mentoring meetings we have worked on my Maths skills, thought about my future options after high school, and, of course, practised my speech writing and presentation skills.”

Primary school students took part in a variety of activities during the event replicating the type of activities they will be engaging with in the year ahead during after-school academic support sessions. Secondary school students came up with questions about future study and careers to survey attending guests.

Maximising the value of working in partnership with IntoUniversity is part of the Collaborative Newcastle Universities Agreement, which brings together the world-leading expertise and collective power at Newcastle and Northumbria Universities to support the health, wealth and wellbeing of our local communities.

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