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UNDERPRIVILEGED STUDENTS: Gary Neville’s university rolling out support packages

UNDERPRIVILEGED STUDENTS: Gary Neville’s university rolling out support packages

The Ua92 Campus In Old Trafford, Image: UA92

Gary Neville’s university is rolling out support packages with free lunches, unlimited data, laptops and travel passes to its most underprivileged students.

The former Manchester United player has launched the new support package, worth £5,000, which will help students throughout their three year degrees at University Academy 92.

The university, based in Old Trafford, was set up by Manchester United’s Class of 1992 and this will be its third year of student enrolment.

university

From left to right: Marnie Millard OBE, Chair of the Board at UA92, Gary Neville, co-founder at UA92, Sara Prowse, CEO at UA92, Image: LDRS

Inspired by fellow Manchester United player Marcus Rashford’s campaign for free school lunches in primary schools across the UK, Gary and his team hope to pick up where that support drops off.

He said: “Now what’s become apparent with this heating versus eating choice that many families face is that there are obstacles stopping people from accessing higher education.

“We’re targeting young people, aged 17 to 20 who feel it’s unaffordable. The cost of travel and the cost of food can be a real problem for them and can prevent them from accessing university – which is inconceivable to me.

“Rashford has obviously raised awareness with his free school meals campaign, and it continues beyond school. People fall behind. We want to access those hard to reach areas.

“As we know, the quality of education and access to education in this country is dependent on your postcode. We want to highlight and remove that to encourage people to go to university.”

Gary’s time training at Manchester United and growing up in the city has also influenced the new initiative.

He said: “Our own experience growing up in Manchester was the reason we set up this university in the first place. We want people to have access to higher education irrespective of where you grew up or your postcode.

“How we feel about young people now and our own values and experiences have fed into that. We felt that while training at Manchester United and we want them to have that.

“The reason we started this university was to do things like this.”

UA92’s private partners are funding the support packages. The university’s curriculum is different from traditional universities and aims to assess students’ competence over time, with no exams.

The support packages will give students financial help throughout their three year course. Over the entire course, their lunches will be covered, they’ll each be given a laptop, their travel passes will be included and they’ll have unlimited data paid for by the university.

Gary added: “I think for some people it can be a large weight that can be a determinate in whether they go to university or not. We’ve got to give young people a choice. In large parts of country, the most deprived areas, young people don’t feel they have the right to go to uni – we want to change that.

“UA92 is disruptive to the conventional university structure in terms of the curriculum. There are no exams, I don’t believe in exams. This idea of a drop dead day where you pass or fail shouldn’t exist in my opinion, we need to measure people’s competency over time, and now it’s the financial structure we’re trying to change.”

The former Manchester United player and his team are confident the scheme will be a success.

To qualify for the package the student needs to be currently in receipt of free school meals or in receipt of free school meals in their last year at school or college.  Students in receipt of free school meals are almost half as likely to progress onto higher education as their peers.

For more information, to apply for courses or support packages, visit the UA92 website here: https://ua92.ac.uk/.

 

Words: Alice Richardson, Local Democracy Reporter


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