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Virtual web buddy to spearhead UCL aim to widen access

Publication date: Mar 21, 2006 4:38:45 PM

Sixth form students thinking of going to university can now receive mentoring and encouragement online thanks to a new initiative launched today at University College London (UCL).

Web Buddy facilitates contact between school students - particularly from families without a background in higher education - with current UCL under-graduates. Potential students obtain advice about university life and are encouraged to consider university as their next destination after school.

Anna Welford, who manages the Web Buddy Scheme, said today: "Web Buddy is proving a huge success. UCL recognises that, either through a lack of information or quality if support, some capable students miss out on the chance to go to university. Through the Web Buddy scheme we plan to change that along with widening the participation of students from different backgrounds studying at UCL."

Florence Bergin, a first year Linguistics student and Web Buddy helper said: "The Web Buddy scheme is a great way to get across to school students what it's really like at university. To be able to communicate with students studying at UCL is really helpful, specially to students who are not sure whether university is for them."

"I feel I am really making a difference. If I give advice to just one person which makes them decide to go to university when they otherwise wouldn't, I'd feel a superb sense of achievement."

UCL's widening participation strategy targets groups that are currently under-represented in higher education. The strategy's three main aims are:

  • To raise awareness of higher education among under-represented groups
  • To increase the number of students from under-represented groups on UCL programmes
  • Where possible, to increase the excellent progression and retention rates of under-represented groups already studying at UCL.