The Reach for Excellence Programme: a summary and discussion of findings from the first cohort of students

Report Overview

A summary and discussion by the Sutton Trust of the findings from the first cohort of students who participated in the Reach for Excellence scheme at the University of Leeds.

Key Findings

University destinations

  • Students on the Reach for Excellence (RfE) programme were twice as likely as similar students in the control (comparison) group to enter a research intensive university, with just under half (45%) of RfE students entering these universities, compared with one-fifth (21%) of those from the comparison group.
  • RfE students were also more likely to enter higher education generally: 87% of RfE students gained a place at university compared with 65% of similar students in the control group.
  • Three quarters of RfE students who went to university enrolled at an university within 50 miles of Leeds.
  • RfE students were slightly more likely to have planned to attend university compared to their control group counterparts (87% versus 82%) at the start of the programme; by the end, this gap in aspirations had significantly widened (95% versus 72%).

University preparations

  • RfE students are significantly happier than their control group peers about the amount of information and guidance they have received to help them to make decisions about university.
  • At the end of the programme, 44% of RfE students were concerned about ending up in debt as a result of attending university compared with 58% of similar students in the control group.
  • Over nine in ten RfE students deemed advice from university staff or students as useful – compared with five in ten students or fewer who deemed advice useful from school careers coordinators.
  • Just under three quarters (72%) of A-level grades achieved by RfE students were As or Bs compared with just over half (55%) for students in the comparison group. 61% of RfE students achieved at least one A grade, compared with 38% of the control group.

Key characteristics of RfE students

  • 86% of RfE are students first generation university applicants, reporting that neither their
    mother nor father had attended university
  • 85% of RfE students have between 9 and 18 GCSEs as A* to C.

January 1, 2010