A digital outreach programme which has engaged several thousand young learners in the region’s most disadvantaged areas is reflecting on its success.

Raising Aspirations through Higher Education (RAHE), aligned with the Devon Collaborative Outreach Network, has reached 12–16 year-olds throughout Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, and helped to increase their digital literacy skills, while making them aware of paths into different areas of education and employment.

Funded by HEFCE from September 2015, the programme was set up to enable young learners to explore, question and understand their options, so that they can make empowered and informed choices about their futures. 

The programme has also involved students’ parents, teachers and careers advisors, helping them to understand the routes available into higher education so that they can offer support.

Digital resources have included virtual games, online materials, interactive social media, inspiring case study videos myth busting animations and an intuitive app – with many designed by students and alumni from the University of Plymouth.

These resources are free and accessible for people to use at the touch of a button, any time and anywhere. A variety of activities have also been delivered by RAHE, alongside Student Ambassadors, at parents’ evenings, careers events, classroom sessions and campus visits. These interactive opportunities have exposed young learners, teachers, parents and influencers to an edgeless HE environment for them to explore.

Mark Stone, Head of UK Academic Partnerships at the University, has been pleased with the programme’s success, and is keen that the support given to parents and influencers is sustained as the digital project continues to be embedded within the new HEFCE-funded National Collaborative Outreach Project.

“The decision of what HE course to study and where to study it can be one of the biggest and toughest choices for young learners to make,” he said. “And our aim has been to support students with that decision-making process by providing informative and accurate digital information about the multiple routes and exciting opportunities they have within education, thus enabling individuals to make the right choices for them.

“We’re lucky to have had great input from our talented students and alumni. The app, ‘Raise Higher’, was designed by alumni-run company, Elixel; the virtual game ‘Raise Your Game’ was developed by So Good Studios – a company run by three alumni and based at the University’s on-campus incubator, the Formation Zone; and the animation videos were developed by media arts students. It’s been a fantastic project and one from which I know hundreds of students have benefited.”

To find out more about the project, to watch the videos and download the free apps, follow this link http://www.devonoutreachnetwork.co.uk/digital-materials