Some 160 pupils from vulnerable and disadvantaged groups have celebrated a major milestone for a revamped Cardiff University academic programme.
Step Up is a free, two-year scheme to equip sixth-form and college students with the skills and knowledge required to succeed at university.
It features activities, events, workshops and practical support to help young people fulfil their potential.
The new look Step Up has been further strengthened to include a mini university course and the opportunity to attend a two-day residential summer school.
Cardiff University held a celebration event at Cardiff Business School’s Postgraduate Teaching Centre on 28 November for those completing the new programme.
Ikram Hersi, 17, from Tremorfa in Cardiff, wants to study medicine and said she would have been “lost” at this stage without Step up.
“For me it [Step Up] was an eye opener. I got to meet students who gave you an insight into the course, the academic requirements and what else you need to do to help yourself,” she said.
Ikram would be the first in her family to go to university and, having completed the programme, is determined to succeed.
She said: “It’s difficult to be a first generation. You don’t have anyone who understands the kind of struggles you might go through.
“From Year Six, I was adamant I was going to be a doctor one way or another and I’m still like that if it takes me 10 years or if it takes me five years!”
The young people choose from five streams – Healthcare, Humanities, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences.
Through the monthly sessions, they develop presentation, analytic and research skills.
All students are allocated an academic tutor and, subject to terms and conditions, those who go on to study at Cardiff University are offered a means-tested bursary.
Scott McKenzie, the University’s Head of Widening Participation and Community Outreach, said:
“Our aim is to remove as many barriers as possible to higher education therefore our revamped programme is our most ambitious yet.
“I’m confident that these bright, ambitious young people will use the skills, knowledge and confidence they have acquired to fulfil their potential once they leave sixth-form and college.”