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A group of four adults holding an award certificate

A partnership between ourselves and four other universities has won a national award for helping care-experienced students into higher education.

The North East Raising Aspiration Partnership (NERAP) is made up of North East England’s five universities: Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside. 

Together we help students who have experience of the care system to succeed at university by supporting them in areas ranging from finance and accommodation, to wellbeing and employment. 

The partnership’s work has now been recognised nationally, winning the Widening Access Partnership of the Year accolade at the 2023 National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) awards.  

The awards judges commended the strong, committed partnership between our five universities, as well as the dedication to working together to support underrepresented groups. 

NERAP was also praised for being sector-leading in its work with care-experienced students. 

Tailored support 

Care-experienced students currently form less than 2% of all applications to higher education.  

However, a recent UCAS report showed that nationally, 60% of students who have spent time in care aspire to go to university or college, yet receive no specific guidance tailored to their needs about applying to higher education.  

NERAP, which was established in 2011, funds and works together on pre-16 outreach activity such as joint visits to schools to highlight higher education opportunities in the region and targeted work to support care-experienced students and young carers. 

NERAP has also established Choices Together, an intensive programme of activities for care-experienced students in years 7 to 13, to support them in thinking about their futures and how higher education can help them reach their goals.  

The support and interventions offered are aligned to the national Care Leaver Covenant core outcomes, and NERAP recently became the first regional Higher Education partnership to sign up to the agreement.  

Led by Newcastle University, the partnership is a core element of our work to support young people who have the potential to go to university regardless of their background. 

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