Hundreds of north-east pupils celebrate completion of ‘Access To’ programme at RGU

More than 200 S5 and S6 pupils from across Aberdeen City and Shire have taken part in this year’s ‘Access To’ programme at Robert Gordon University (RGU), which gives them a taste of university life.

Access To Health Professions L-R Megan Karakus and Chloe CraigheadDesigned to help under-represented youngsters achieve their higher education ambitions, the expanded 2015/16 ‘Access To’ programme for the first time offered taster sessions in computing and engineering in addition to law; art and architecture; management; life sciences; health professions; and communication and media.

The programme, now in its third year, allows participants to experience learning and teaching in a university environment, as well as benefit from tailored support from RGU’s Wider Access and Outreach Team.

In addition to Aberdeen City pupils, youngsters from Mintlaw, Peterhead and Fraserburgh also attended the programme for the first time this year.

S6 Peterhead Academy pupils Megan Karakus (16) and Chloe Craighead (17) completed the ‘Access to Allied Health Professions’ programme.

Chloe, who is hoping to study pharmacy at university, said: “Getting to meet the lecturers at RGU has made us more comfortable and shown us what the different courses would be like. It’s also been really useful to find out what we need to do to get accepted to the courses.

“We have learned how x-ray machines work, seen how the images are developed and also found out how physiotherapy equipment is used to help people.”

Megan, who wants to study physiotherapy, added: “Each week we’ve worked on something different and learned about a different subject. Studying subjects like Pharmacy and Digital Radiography has definitely given an insight in to what university has to offer.

“It’s been a good experience to meet new people from different schools and an opportunity to work with other pupils we don’t get to see every day.”

Fifth year pupil Jake Duthie (16), from Fraserburgh Academy, completed the new engineering course and said: “It’s been a really good experience to see the different aspects of engineering and the programme has made me more confident to apply to study the subject at university at the end of this year.

“I’ve been interested in becoming an engineer since this time last year as I like maths, physics and GC at school. Coming to RGU for this programme has made it clear how those subjects all come together as part of engineering – you use a little bit of all three subjects. It’s given me more of a sense of what studying engineering will be like and I’m glad that I decided to come on the programme.”

He added: “It’s made me more confident to speak to other people and to ask for help when I need it.”

Fifth year pupil Ben Mellin (16), from Mintlaw Academy, said: “It’s been a really good and enjoyable hands-on experience.  It’s been great to have access to the engineering machines at the university.”

Acting Senior Project Coordinator for the ‘Access To’ programme at RGU, Rhona McComiskie, said: “The programme has significantly expanded this year and we are delighted to have been able to offer this experience to more pupils across a wider range of subjects and schools, including a number of Aberdeenshire partners.

“Taking them into a new environment, away from school, brings something new to their learning. In terms of the more technical programmes that we run, coming to RGU gives them exposure to state-of-the-art facilities which are beyond what they perhaps have access to at school.

“The pupils have been really committed and enthusiastic about the programmes, which has been great to see. We wanted the pupils to step out of their comfort zone and they really have achieved that – you can see their confidence starting to build as the weeks go past and they develop more skills and knowledge.”

She added: “Bringing together school pupils from the north-east who have specific interests and ambitions in a particular subject is a big part of what we do, and many of the participants have said that one of the best parts of the programme was being able to work alongside their peers from different areas who shared those interests and ambitions.

“What we are seeing now that the programme has been running for a number of years is that pupils who take part act as ambassadors in their own schools and help spread the word to those younger pupils.”

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Jenny RushCommunications Officer | Design and Technology