Mentoring Celebration event takes place at BU


Pupils who have been involved with Bournemouth University’s Mentoring Scheme visited Talbot Campus for a celebration event.

The Mentoring Scheme aims to promote higher education as an option to pupils, with current BU students visiting schools to help and support pupils – covering everything from university finances, to choosing the right course or writing a CV.

Around 50 pupils who have been involved in the scheme over the last year visited BU for the celebration event, and to get a taste of university life.

Alongside activities like course tasters and a shopping challenge, they toured the campus with their mentors and had the chance to visit the 2013 Dorset Higher Education Convention taking place that day.

Outreach and Student Recruitment Officer Matt Usher, who coordinates the mentoring scheme, said: “It’s about that first step.

“Pupils may not know what they want to do next so the scheme is really just about introducing it to them as an idea and letting them know there are opportunities out there for them.

“Often they find that working with a peer mentor can be really inspirational and aspirational – they can see an example of what they can do if they work hard over the next few years, and their mentor will understand and have been through the experiences that those pupils will be going through now.”

Pupils at the celebration event came from schools including Oak Academy, The Grange School and Carter Community College, and ranged in age from 14 to sixth form age.

Dawn Griffiths, Upper School Progress Coordinator at Oak Academy, said the pupils at her school had enjoyed working with the mentors and visiting the BU campus.

“They learnt a lot about things that they may not necessarily discuss with each other in a normal school environment. I think to be taught things like budgeting and study skills by somebody who is still studying is very, very valuable.”

She added: “It’s been lovely for them to mix with the students in the university environment, and they’ve been really excited about what courses and universities they are going to look at.”

More information about the mentoring scheme, and other outreach activities taking place at BU

Professor Les Ebdon praises BU’s work in widening access


Professor Les Ebdon, Director of the Office For Fair Access (OFFA), has praised the work Bournemouth University is doing to widen access and participation in higher education.

OFFA is an independent body which helps safeguard and promote fair access to higher education, and Professor Ebdon visited BU to talk to staff, students and the public about the importance of making higher education accessible to all.

Professor Ebdon said: “I believe that higher education is a life-transforming experience which opens up a wealth of opportunities.

“It is about transforming lives and giving people that opportunity that we had to make a difference in our lives and to make a difference to other people’s lives.

“I am delighted to be here at BU where you have done so much.”

A number of schemes are currently running at BU to work with people from under-represented groups in higher education – such as care leavers, people with disabilities or additional learning needs, and those from lower income backgrounds.

These include the AimHigher outreach project, where teams go into schools and colleges to give young people a feel of what university is like through workshops and taster days.

BU also runs schemes to support students once they get to university, such as Peer Assisted Learning and the Grow @BU project, which provides mentoring and support to students from under-represented backgrounds.

Professor Ebdon said he had enjoyed finding out more about the work BU was doing around fair access.

“I think BU has an excellent record in widening participation and has gone out to a lot of people in this area and I wanted to see what work was being done,” he said.

“It is clearly a challenge that is taken very seriously here at BU, and particularly in terms of contributing to national research on these issues.”

He added that he was impressed with the Grow @BU project, and the work being done with primary schools in the area to help children and their parents see university as an option from an early age.

“I was particularly impressed to see the work the university is doing with primary schools and hear how effective it is in really raising the aspirations and motivation, and how that is linking in with parents and the staff. That is very powerful.”

He added: “I think the Grow @BU project is particularly good.

“It is not just enough to ensure that students from widening participation backgrounds come to university, but also making sure that they are successful, and don’t withdraw from programmes as a result of barriers.”

Professor Ebdon spoke to staff and students from the university during the afternoon and at a public event at Talbot Campus in the evening.

The events also heard from past and present BU students from under-represented groups, and Jackie Green, headteacher at Malmesbury Park Primary School in Bournemouth, who has been working closely with BU outreach teams.

Professor John Vinney, Vice-Chancellor of Bournemouth University, said: “Every student who has the ability and the academic capability to succeed at university should have the chance to do so.

“It is an increasing priority and focus for many universities and something that we certainly take very seriously at Bournemouth University.”

Following the visit, Professor Ebdon raised the work being done at BU in a Parliamentary committee.

While speaking at the Business, Innovation and Skills committee about student admissions and fair access, he mentioned the schemes which support students from under-represented backgrounds.

He said: “Only last week I was at Bournemouth University looking at how one of their programmes is really effective.

“They have already seen a 2 per cent improvement in their retention record. Young graduates are spearheading the programme.

“They know what the experience of going through university life is like and what the challenges are. I could see it was a very effective programme in the making.”

Who killed Rudolph the Reindeer?

With just weeks to go before Christmas, tragedy strikes.

Rudolph the Reindeer has been killed – and Santa, Mrs Claus and his fellow reindeer are among the prime suspects.

Our only hope for a happy Christmas? Schoolchildren from across Bournemouth – who visited BU to try and solve the crime on Monday.

The Who Killed Rudolph? was organised by BU and the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) to introduce pupils to forensic science.

Year 9 pupils from The Bourne Academy, Oakmead College of Technology, The Grange School, Carter Community School and St Aldhelm’s Academy first watched a short play, which introduced all the main characters and prime suspects.

The play – acted out by students and Aimhigher ambassadors – showed tensions between Rudolph and characters including Mrs Claus – who was jealous of Santa and Rudolph’s ‘snowmance’ – The Grinch and the Head Elf Toymaker, who had been overlooked for a promotion, with Rudolph getting the job instead.

At the end of the play, Rudolph staggers in and collapses – but nobody knows what has happened to him. Or do they?

“It’s a forensic murder mystery,” said Naomi Capell, Science Outreach Officer, at Aimhigher with BU, who helped organise the event.

“The participating schoolchildren then had to find out how Rudolph died and whether he was killed.

“They took part in five workshops and all of them were aimed at discovering the truth behind those aspects of the investigation.”

The workshops were led by students and took place in BU labs.

They included interrogating the main suspects, fingerprint and hair analysis and learning how to extract DNA using strawberries.

Pupils also analysed Rudolph’s stomach contents to see if he has been poisoned.

Naomi said: “We hope they will see the possibilities of studying science, particularly science at university.

“Forensics is not something that students tend to study at school, so we just wanted to show them more about what science at university is like and what kind of facilities we have.

She added: “The students seemed to enjoy the activities.

“All of the workshops were as practical as possible and we got quite good feedback from the interrogation workshop – they quite loved questioning all of our main characters.”

The Who Killed Rudolph? event was repeated by staff and students at the Royal Veterinary College, in London, for schoolchildren the next day.

Pupils had to write down who they thought killed Rudolph and how, and the answers were revealed in another short play at the end of the event. Pupils who got it right won prizes.

Dawn Griffiths, upper school coordinator at Oakmead College of Technology, had brought her pupils along to the event at BU.

She said: “It has been brilliant. It’s a great insight into studying forensics at university.

“It has stretched the pupils, which has been really good, and they have been fully engaged with it all.

“Speaking to the students throughout the day, a growing number have said that they are now interested in studying forensics.”