The University of Birmingham (UoB) has partnered with charity In2scienceUK to support disadvantaged Year 12 pupils in work placements across the institution’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) departments.
In2scienceUK, a non-profit dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion in STEM, will collaborate with UoB on a project to address the growing shortfall of disadvantaged young people pursing STEM-based degrees in the West Midlands.
The West Midlands is one of the UK’s high poverty regions, with 18.7% of secondary school students receiving free school meals – the fourth highest percentage in England. Meanwhile, Birmingham has the third highest income deprivation score of all English metropolitan boroughs.
As part of the charity’s year-long impact programme, students will be assigned work placements with voluntary STEM representatives from the university. The experience will instil them with first-hand industry experience and equip them with vital skills for employment.
Students on the programme will work alongside experienced professionals on cutting-edge research, also benefitting from high quality workshops and public engagement competitions, on top of receiving valuable guidance on university applications. In2scienceUK has already supported over 1,000 students from 326 schools, with 80% of participants gaining university acceptance.
“We are really delighted to be partnering with In2ScienceUK to give our academics and postgraduate students in STEM subjects at the University of Birmingham the opportunity to provide placements for students living in the West Midlands,” said Dr Clare Ray, lead for outreach and widening participation at UoB.
“We are hoping that the placements will inspire and support students currently underrepresented in higher education to consider pursuing study and careers in these important areas for the development of our region and the whole country. They will see first-hand the research being carried out at the University of Birmingham that will lead to the discoveries and developments in science, technology, engineering and mathematics which are likely to influence their own lives in the future.”
Dr Rebecca McKelvey, CEO and founder of In2scienceUK, said: “The social background of bright young students should never act as a barrier to their progression into university and high skilled STEM careers. There is an enormous amount of untapped potential among disadvantaged young people who often remain overlooked, but who could hold the key to addressing the current shortfall in STEM-skilled workers within the UK. We are on a mission to address this by creating new routes for them to have the same opportunities to enter the best institutions in the country.”