“The future of this community is very bright thanks to these students and this centre” – An initiative creating greater opportunities for free school meal students opens in Marfleet

The University of Hull has been working in partnership with the charity IntoUniversity, as well as the University of York and other local stakeholders – including local schools and the Children’s University – in order to create greater opportunities for pupils from deprived backgrounds to reach the university of their choice.

Working together, over £1.3m has been raised to establish the IntoUniversity Hull East Centre, based in the Freedom Centre on Preston Road, which opened officially on 29 March 2023. There are 36 existing IntoUniversity centres nationally, operating in some of the most deprived wards in England and Scotland. In 2022, 66% of free-school meal pupils completing IntoUniversity programmes at these centres went on to higher education, and many more chose to pursue further study, employment or apprenticeship routes. IntoUniversity Hull East seeks to emulate this model for the Marfleet Ward by working closely with schools in the vicinity, key local stakeholders and residents of the ward.

The launch event was a fantastic and joyous occasion, attended by students of the new centre along with their parents and families, donors, local stakeholders, and representatives of the Universities of Hull and York, with both Vice Chancellors present, and the hard-working team from IntoUniversity.

Primary students took part in carousels of activities linked to National Curriculum objectives, similar to those taken part in at Academic Support.

Dr Rachel Carr, co-founder of the IntoUniversity, introduced two students, Bryson and Elizabeth, who spoke about their experiences at the Centre and more than one-hundred attendees, packed into the hall, gave them enthusiastic and sustained applause.

Professor Dave Petley, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hull, praised the students, Centre staff, and families in his address, saying “What I’ve learned tonight, is that in your hands, and in the hands of these young people, the future for this centre is very bright. The future of our University is also very bright, because I hope that we will see some of the students from this centre joining us at the University of Hull in the coming years. But, most importantly, the future of this community is very bright thanks to these students and this centre.”

Professor Charlie Jeffery, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of York, also spoke at the event, as they have been partners in fundraising for the centre. He referenced the importance of opening up access to a university education and the challenges facing young people today.

Students were in prime place to help cut the ribbon, thus opening the centre. It was the culmination of years of work at the Universities of Hull and York, along with IntoUniversity, to make this life-changing project a reality.

We are still raising funds for the centre as well as working on two more projects in the region. If you would like to hear more about it, please contact alumni@hull.ac.uk at the University of Hull.

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