Uni Connect Launch

Uni Connect will replace the government-funded National Collaborative Outreach Programme. It aims to give young people impartial information, advice, and guidance about post-18 education. Its ultimate aim is to make a university-level education accessible to all young people regardless of background.

National Programme

Uni Connect will be delivered in Staffordshire, Shropshire and Cheshire by Higher Horizons, a partnership of local universities and colleges led by Keele University. The two-year, £5.6m programme will see information sessions delivered in schools about university, apprenticeships and careers; campus visits and residential stays at universities throughout the country; curriculum-based workshops designed to boost subject learning; and support for the emotional wellbeing and resilience of young people who take part. Higher Horizons has delivered outreach activities to local schools and colleges through various government funding streams since 2004. The current version of the programme launched in 2017.

Delivered Locally


Joseph from Stoke-on-Trent has benefitted from Higher Horizons activities since 2017. Joseph grew up in Italy in a Nigerian family and moved to England when he was 14. Through Higher Horizons, he took part in a week-long project called White Water Writers and wrote a book, visited Keele and Oxford Universities, and took part in the Potteries Science Festival activities at Staffordshire University. Joseph credits the programme with boosting his confidence and  exposing him to a variety of English universities. Joseph is currently in his final year at City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form where he is predicted to get top grades in his A Levels. He has recently applied to university.

Reflecting on his experiences, Joseph said, “I thought the idea of going to University was impossible. But with Higher Horizons, and the experiences and visits through the years, I was able to gain confidence and improve my English. Now I’m at the position where I have applied to several Russell Group Universities.”

Since 2017 Higher Horizons have delivered over 1500 activities across Staffordshire, Shropshire and Cheshire with over 30,000 young people.

Head of Higher Horizons Ant Sutcliffe said “We are delighted to be able to continue creating opportunities and pathways for young people across our three counties. We believe that our young people are the most talented in the country, and we are committed to helping them on their journey.”


1. Higher Horizons is a partner of the Uni Connect programme funded by the Office for Students. The Office for Students is the independent regulator for higher education in England. The Office for Students aims to ensure that every student, whatever their background, has a fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers.

2. Higher Horizons is a partnership of universities and colleges led by Keele University. Higher Horizons’ partners are Staffordshire University, University of Chester, Harper Adams University, University of Derby, University of Oxford, Cheshire College South and West, Warrington and Vale Royal College, Shrewsbury Colleges Group and Reaseheath College. It is funded to work in 57 ward areas where university progression is low and lower than expected given GCSE attainment.

3. Joseph lived in Bentilee and Sneyd Green in Stoke-on-Trent and attended the Discovery Academy before progressing to City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form. Both areas are target wards for Uni Connect. Higher Horizons works extensively with both the school and sixth form to support the progression of their young people.