Step Up students awarded in special graduation ceremony

More than 100 young people have gathered with their family and friends to celebrate their graduation from the Step Up to Swansea Programme at a very special ceremony at Swansea University’s Great Hall.

The graduating students were part of the Step Up programme, a widening access programme that works with groups from across south west Wales who are currently underrepresented in Higher Education (HE). The programme works mainly with Year 12 students and aims to help change lives by making HE accessible to all, including care experienced young people and young carers.

These new Step Up graduates joined the programme in Year 12 from schools and colleges across the region and attended various events this year which culminated in a week-long residential course at the University in the summer.

At the recent Graduation ceremony, the students were invited to the stage to graduate and were awarded a certificate by the Associate Director of Academies at Swansea University, Jo Parfitt.

This latest cohort of students is the largest that the Step Up Team has worked with, and in total 138 students have successfully completed the programme and are now able to access a 16 point tariff reduction should they apply to study at Swansea University.

While celebrating at the event, Freya Jones of Ysgol Dyffryn Aman, who wants to study Material Science and Engineering at Swansea, said: “I applied for the Step Up Programme to become certain on what career I wanted in the future, as well as to understand more on what the university process was like…  I truly felt that my questions were listened to.”

Ieuan Davies of Coleg Sir Gâr who wants to study Criminology said: “I applied because I knew even at the start of last year that this course was going to change my life. I knew if I was lucky enough to be accepted, I would make new friends and memories that would last the rest of my life… Not only has this course made me a better person, it’s made me want to be a better person.”

Former Step Up student Richie Wilkinson, who is now a third year Business Management student at Swansea University, spoke about his experiences at the Graduation and said: “As a year 12 student I had no idea what I could study at university – that’s why I chose to apply to the Step Up programme. I was intimidated by the thought of university.  From my experience on the programme, I gained a more in-depth view of what it’s like to be a university student.

“I also managed to gain more confidence and university became a less intimidating step forward in my education.”  Richie hopes to become a secondary school teacher in the future so that he can inspire the next generation.

Senior Programme Development Officer for Step Up, Rebecca Griffiths said: “It was wonderful to come together to truly celebrate the work of our 2023 cohort.   We hope that we’ve motivated and inspired these students to apply for a university course.

“We will continue to support these students in Year 13 by offering them the opportunity to sit in on first year lectures and we wish all of our students well with their studies.”

Special prizes were also awarded at the Graduation in the following categories:

Highest academic achievement: Corinthian Manley and Gagany Dissananyake, both of Gower College

Commitment to the programme: Louis and William Hutchings from Neath Port Talbot College and Travis Thorne from Coleg Sir Gâr.

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