A record-breaking number of university hopefuls have signed up to a Dundee University summer school programme to help prepare for university.
The Access Summer Schools scheme, which helps pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds access higher education, has seen an 80% surge in participation since it moved online due to lockdown.
More than 360 pupils are now enrolled in the course where they can get a taster of their chosen subject from the university’s 10 schools – with engagement in nursing, art and design and medicine growing rapidly.
Lockdown has enabled the university to offer the six-and-a-half week programme to more students as they move fully online for the first time in almost three decades.
Dr John Blicharski, now in his 26th year of leading the university course, said: “Despite the changes to teaching and learning, we have a record number of students engaging in the courses and we continue to offer the highest quality learning experience of its kind.
“The courses are now in their fourth week and we are incredibly encouraged by the work and enthusiasm of students participating, especially in the current environment. We look forward to seeing what the students will achieve on completion.”
Since launching in 1993, the Access Summer Schools have helped nearly 3,000 students towards higher education and the programmes have been cited nationally as an example of best practice.
“The commitment needed to bring over one hundred staff and so many students together for intensive degree preparation has been both humbling and challenging.”
The initiative usually sees students attend courses on campus during the summer months but classes were moved online due to the coronavirus.
Dr Blicharski added: “The commitment needed to bring over one hundred staff and so many students together for intensive degree preparation has been both humbling and challenging.
“With many secondary schools working fully online during lockdown the transition for this group has been a little easier to manage.
“There has been a buzz around the sessions with student mentors, as the class of 2020 make new friends for the new semester.
“Being able to make such a positive contribution, all whilst working and studying from home, captures the spirit of what Access to Higher Education is all about.”