A helping hand

University life isn’t just about sitting in lecture theatres.

It’s about the wider experiences, the contacts you make, the networks you become part of. It’s about finding the people who will give the right advice, the benefit of their experience and a helping hand.

Through summer schools and workplace residentials, students who are enrolled on Manchester Metropolitan’s First Generation programme are being given the experiences and contacts that will help them navigate university and life beyond.

The events are designed to expand the networks of the participants to help them develop their social capital, along with their social and professional skills. During their time on the programme, they will be exposed to a wide range of employers and alumni through a variety of different opportunities.

The First Generation programme is designed to support students from across Greater Manchester who have the potential to succeed at Manchester Metropolitan, but whose parents didn’t attend university.

Evidence shows that first generation students often face barriers when it comes to completion and graduate prospects and careers.

As a result, the programme offers students the opportunity to attend a London workplace residential which helps address these issues by assisting the students in making informed decisions about their future; raising their graduate aspirations, and giving them the contacts and networks they need to succeed.

The first cohort of the University’s First Generation programme took part in a fourday workplace residential in June marking the end of their first year at Manchester Metropolitan. The students were introduced to a number of major organisations, giving them a unique insight into their recruitment and operational practices.

The London workplace residential is entirely funded by donations from staff, alumni and friends of the University.

During the residential, the students visited companies such as the National Cyber Security Centre, Channel 4, Barclays, Pinsent Masons, The Guardian, NESTA and Facebook to widen their knowledge of the types of roles and careers that exist.

Charlotte Cory, Research Executive, at Channel 4 Television said: “It was an absolute pleasure to host students from the First Generation programme at Channel 4. It was great for us to speak to young people from varying backgrounds and very fulfilling to help the students. I would definitely recommend this programme, in fact, it’s inspired us to roll out collaborative workshops with educational sectors in the future. We look forward to working with Manchester Metropolitan University in the future.”

Vinita Arora, who is studying Accounting and Finance said: “Attending the London workplace residential has given me the confidence to apply to big companies and, after speaking to employees from Barclays and other organisations who opened their doors to us, I now understand the recruitment process better and feel that I am in a stronger position to apply for jobs.

“Since being on the programme, I have developed my networking skills on both a personal and professional level, my employability skills, and most importantly gained new selfconfidence and resilience.”

My time at university wouldn’t have been the same without the First Generation programme as I would not have received the level of support I have, which I will still receive until I graduate.

This first cohort of students has now been joined at the University by the second cohort of 95 learners, each of whom has received a £1,000 bursary as a result of donations to the programme.

Both cohorts will have been through an innovative pre-entry programme which saw them participate in a series of Summer Schools when they were Year 12 students.

The Summer School is a three day, two night event, and the format sees participants working in groups on a challenge to deliver a pitch for a new ‘positive change’ campaign. Participants are supported on how to research, plan and sell their ideas, and on the final day, pitch these to the rest of their peers, along with an audience of internal and external stakeholders.

Giving an insight into what university life is like, both academically and socially, the Summer School helps students develop the skills they need to succeed at university. It is a compulsory element of the programme and is available as either a residential or nonresidential experience.

It is designed to give the participants an opportunity to talk about their future, both in education and at graduation, with someone new.

Helen Lord, Transition and Peer Support Manager, who coordinates the First Generation programme, said: “The Summer School is a fantastic opportunity to help the year 12 students to feel part of the academic community, as well as inspiring them to achieve their goals. “The support provided by colleagues from across the University, our alumni network, local businesses and our First Generation student ambassadors helps to make the programme a success. Our pre-entry students feel reassured by opportunities to hear from others, especially if they come from similar backgrounds too.”

An additional element of the Summer School is a ‘round table’ event, with an employer or alumni hosting each table. The aim is to spark conversations that will provide information and guidance around the personal, professional and financial areas of university life, as well as contributing to the future employability prospects of the students.

Kashaf Manzoor, who joined the University in September 2019 to study Fashion Business and Management, said: “I had the great chance to have a chat with successful business professionals supporting the programme at every stage through networking sessions, mentoring, and employer visits. This scheme is helping me reach my potential and providing me with a lot of support and encouragement to succeed.”

Student Lizzie Glass, who started at the University in September 2018 studying a degree in History, said: “The First Generation programme really helped me build up my confidence straight from the summer school in 2017. Meeting new people is always scary for me, especially in a brand-new environment, but with the team-building exercises and campus tours we did, I quickly got to know the people and the buildings around me.

“My time at university wouldn’t have been the same without the First Generation programme as I would not have received the level of support I have, which I will still receive until I graduate. The opportunities are outstanding and I couldn’t have wished for a better time at university already.”

First Generation focus

First Generation helps young people from Greater Manchester who are the first generation in their family to go to university – most have excelled in their GCSEs and have progressed to Year 12 at a local school or college, but may not have the financial means and support networks they need to thrive in higher education.

The programme – a complete student journey of support – starts with pre-entry, including residential and non-residential Summer Schools, support with applications and peer mentorship from students with similar life experience. Those who choose Manchester Metropolitan will benefit from access to professional mentoring; skills development sessions; the chance to help the next generation by working or volunteering as First Generation Student Ambassador; work experience; financial support in their first year in the shape of a £1,000 scholarship, and a work-place residential experience.

Since launching in July 2017 to the first group of Year 12 pupils from across Greater Manchester, the programme has been breaking down social mobility barriers. Since September 2018, 156 young people have enrolled on an undergraduate course at the University and have received these transformational scholarships, fully funded by donations to the campaign.

At the end of their first academic year, scholars attend a London workplace residential also funded by donations to the campaign. The residential offers students the opportunity to develop networks, gain insight into industries relevant to their degree, and learn crucial professional and employability skills. Businesses can help us raise the scholars’ graduate prospects by providing access to networks and professional facilities.

We are calling on our inspirational network of alumni, friends and business contacts to donate to the campaign and help transform the lives of 1,000 young people. The University funds all administrative costs, so every pound raised funds activities that directly benefit the students – £2,000 funds a First Generation Scholarship.

You can also get involved by providing your time and expertise, mentorships, internships, placements, and access to professional facilities and networks.

Get involved

Get involved in our campaign to transform 1,000 young lives.

To discuss how you could support First Generation, please contact:

Sophia McNeill, Development Manager
Tel: +44 (0)161 247 3326
Email: s.mcneill@mmu.ac.uk
Website: mmu.ac.uk/firstgeneration/donate