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New Leicester education centre to provide opportunities for city’s young people

Young people in Leicester will have a greater chance of realising their ambitions thanks to a new education centre in the city. 

Dame Maggie Aderin-Pocock, who herself overcame barriers during her school days to forge a successful career as a space scientist and broadcaster, was chosen to open the IntoUniversity Centre, in Beaumont Leys.

Leicester Time: New Leicester education centre to provide opportunities for city’s young people
Picture: University of Leicester

Leicester’s IntoUniversity centre is a collaborative partnership between IntoUniversity, the University of Leicester and De Montfort University. The initiative has been funded thanks to a number of generous donors including the Randal Foundation, founded by Dr Nik and Moni Kotecha, and the Ian and Clare Mattioli Charitable Trust.

The centre will provide young people access to after-school academic support, mentoring with university students and professionals, in-school aspiration-raising workshops and enrichment and work experience opportunities.

Dame Aderin-Pocock, who is the University of Leicester’s Chancellor and attended 13 different schools and had undiagnosed dyslexia as a child, cut the ribbon at the opening, before telling school pupils set to benefit from the centre to aim high when it comes to education.

Dame Aderin-Pocock, who is a co-presenter of BBC Sky At Night, said: “I know the enormous power of education first-hand. Having dyslexia, I was placed in a class for those with additional needs. I also went to 13 different schools because my parents split up when I was young. It was tough, but it was because of education and the inspiration from lots of amazing teachers that I was able to get my GCSEs and A-levels and then go on to university.

“The IntoUniversity centre here in Beaumont Leys is an amazing place. The centre’s staff, and all of the people at Leicester’s two universities who are involved, are dedicated to helping inspire the young people to dream big, and crucially, will support them to help them realise their dreams.”

The centre caters for school pupils aged seven to 18 who live in deprived areas of Leicester. Around 40.6% of children in Leicester are living in poverty, with Beaumont Leys being one of the 10% most deprived places nationally. The local progression rate into Higher Education is just 34.2%, compared to 44% of students nationally, making the area a prime location for an IntoUniversity centre.

IntoUniversity has a proven track record of improving access to and attainment in higher education for students facing disadvantage, and currently supports over 50,000 young people each year at their 41 centres nationwide.

 61% of students who attend IntoUniversity centres go on to progress to university, compared with 28% of students from similar backgrounds nationally.

Professor Katie Normington, Vice-Chancellor of De Montfort University said: “Ability, curiosity and talent is everywhere but opportunity is not and we know this to be particularly the case in Leicester. We see changing this as one of the most important functions a university can provide and so it is really exciting to be able work together to open this centre and help ensure that opportunity is as widely available as possible in our region.”