More than 160 Shropshire college students benefit from academic extracurricular programme

More than 160 students at a Shropshire college have benefitted from ‘Futures February’ – an academic extracurricular programme designed to provide students with higher education insights.

Dr Rob Pugh, Concord College’s assistant principal (careers and university admissions), said that the three-week programme was designed to encourage students to seriously think about what they want to do when they leave.

Dr Pugh said: “This year the Futures February programme consisted of pre-recorded academic talks accessible on Microsoft Teams for our students studying around the world.

“At the same time there have been live university coordinator meetings, Q&A sessions, society meetings and support from external speakers.”

During week one students were shown pre-recorded talks through Microsoft Teams as well as a higher education academic overview by Tom Lawrence, vice principal (academic).

Students also benefitted from the annual ‘World Class Study in London’ presentation – the first time it has been delivered as a webinar due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Representatives were present from Imperial College, King’s College, LSE and UCL.

Sarah Mullen, student recruitment coordinator at London School of Economics and Political Science, said: “Our World Class Study in London talks highlight the benefits of being a student in the city and offers an overview of the study opportunities at four of London’s leading institutions.

“The sessions also enable us to provide advice and guidance regarding the UCAS application process and making a competitive application.”

Dr Pugh said: “Given the strong interest of Concordians in studying at universities in London, the event is always very well attended and worthwhile.

“And although some students may have their sights set on other top universities in the UK or further afield, students were encouraged to attend to assess and consider other options, and gain valuable higher education advice, such as admissions and the application process.”

Insight

Student Brandon Low, 16, said: “Although held remotely, the program has given me a relevant insight into the UCAS application process – informing me of what it entails to apply to the top institutions.

“Of particular interest was the World Class Study in London seminar that allowed us to directly ask questions to university representatives as Imperial is definitely one of my aspirational choices.”

In weeks two and three, students were supported with optional university coordinator and tutor meetings, which were live sessions, as well as Q&As and student society meetings for those considering different options at this stage.

The additional external session covered ‘Meet the Russell Group’ – a virtual experience run by UK University Search, whereby students could explore the 24 Russell Group universities online throughout the course of a day.

Reflecting on the programme so far, sixth form student Shaz Raj, 17, said: “Asserting the critical nature of 6.1 whilst instilling hope for my future university choices, Futures February has been an invaluable experience.

“From degree apprenticeships, to Russel group universities, it has been a programme that has not only widened my horizons, but has made the horizons clearer for me.”

Week three is culminating this weekend with Concord’s annual Medical Futures Conference – delivered virtually for the first-time.

A range of universities from across the UK, Ireland and further afield will be represented on the day, as well as 18 doctors and representatives from The Medic Portal and Medical Doorway, all supporting the region’s aspiring medics.

Students from 36 different schools across the region will be present and together with Concord’s aspiring medics the event will cater for over 200 students.

Dr Pugh added: “I am grateful for the support of all staff involved in Futures February and am equally grateful to all the contributors.”

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