Universities team up to open new learning centre to create new opportunities for young people in Hull

A new learning centre officially launching in Hull today is set to empower thousands of young people to achieve their academic and career ambitions.

The centre, based in The Freedom Centre in East Hull, is a collaboration between the University of Hull, the University of York, and national education charity IntoUniversity to provide long-term educational support to young people facing disadvantage and who are typically underrepresented in higher education.

Working closely with local schools, businesses and universities, the centre offers long-term support to young people aged 7-18, helping them to discover their focus, build their capabilities and ultimately have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Support offered at the centre includes after-school academic support, mentoring with local university students and professionals, in-school aspiration-raising workshops and enrichment and work experience opportunities. Once established, the centre will support over 1000 students per year.

The centre is in an IMD (index of multiple deprivation) decile 1 area (41st most deprived out of 32844 small areas in the UK), and in a TUNDRA quintile 1 area (the local progression rate into higher education is 17%). This compares to a national average progression rate of 62% for the most advantaged students in England. In contrast, in York, the overall progression rate for all pupils is 44.5%. Additionally, 40.4% of children (over 7000) were living in poverty in East Hull in 2020/21. IntoUniversity has a proven track record of improving attainment into further education for students facing disadvantage, and currently supports over 46,000 young people each year at their 39 centres nationwide.

66% of students who attend IntoUniversity centres go on to progress to university, compared with 26.6% of students from similar backgrounds nationally, meaning students are effectively three times more likely to enter higher education through attending. Around 20 students who are set to benefit from the centre for the next academic year and beyond, along with their parents and guardians, attended the launch event with some of them delivering speeches.

Students will take part in a variety of activities during the event replicating the type of activities they will be engaging with in the year ahead during after-school academic support sessions.

Professor Dave Petley, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hull, said: “At the University of Hull, we are committed to inspiring young people into education. It’s just part of the way we are living by our motto Lampada Ferens – which translates as carrying the light of learning – and we take pride in the fact that the University has inclusivity at its heart. This is reflected in our diverse community on campus – where we work incredibly hard to provide inspiring futures for all our students.

“Founded in 1927 as a ‘centre of light and culture’ for Hull, the University is proud to play a leading role in the educational, social, economic and cultural development of our unique city and region. As we approach our centenary year, social justice underpins much of our work – both in our local community and in our range of partnership work to promote access and success for all. To achieve a more equitable and sustainable society, inclusive social and economic development is essential, and this is the case both for the Humber and globally.

“Making a difference requires the dedicated, long-term, collective effort of our community over at least the next decade. The University of Hull is dedicated to driving this change and inspiring, encouraging and giving young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in Hull the confidence to take a positive step into higher education.

“Working through our partnership with IntoUniversity, the University of York and our donors and supporters, we will continue to reach out to communities to bring those opportunities which will help pupils and students reach their full potential.”

Vice-Chancellor Professor Charlie Jeffery of the University of York said: “We believe that all of our young people, whatever their background, should have the opportunity to access the education they need to realise their true potential. As a university dedicated to public good, we want to form partnerships that help to release that potential in communities across our region. We believe the Hull Learning Centre will make a positive contribution by identifying and supporting the development of the next generation of talented young people in the city of Hull.

“The Centre will help nurture the talents of young people who may have never considered higher education before, or perhaps thought that it was not within their reach. We have a real opportunity to change lives, and we look forward to the future of this new Centre and all the young people that walk through its doors.”

Dr Rachel Carr, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of IntoUniversity, said: “Hull is an amazing city with lots of talented and capable young people. Some of them are not getting the opportunities they deserve due to circumstances outside of their control. We’re really excited and pleased to be opening up our new centre in Hull, to help these young people tap into their potential, build their confidence and skills and realise their future dreams. We look forward to working with schools and other partners in the local area, as well as parents – and of course – the wonderful young people. Thanks so much to the University of Hull and the University of York for making this new centre a reality.”

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A new learning centre officially launching in Hull today is set to empower thousands of young people to achieve their academic and career ambitions.