The GHWY / Uni-Connect Higher Education (HE) Roadshow was rolled out to higher and degree levels at the Ridings Centre Wakefield. Now in its third year, the two–day event offered free HE advice, careers interviews and entertainment.
Universities and University Centres from across West Yorkshire, along with Wakefield College, Wakefield College Apprenticeships, HMRC Apprenticeships, Police, Armed Forces Careers, Morrisons, and many other companies and organisations attended the event to raise the profile of HE between 31 January-1 February 2020.
On the Friday dance, acting and musical theatre students studying at the Mechanics Theatre, Wakefield College, put on several performances to the delight of shoppers. Entertainment for the younger ones was provided by Lawrence (LTEntertainment), who demonstrated his balloon modelling and juggling skills. Lawrence himself is no stranger to HE; he is a qualified accountant who got his love of entertaining from societies he joined at university.
Unfortunately, day two was curtailed by partial closure of the city of Wakefield due to a very serious bakery fire. However, we did manage to still spread the word about HE, higher level skills and higher-level job opportunities to over 300 members of the local community.
This event is seen as a way of exposing people in the Wakefield district to the benefits of HE by being in the very heart of the community.
Wakefield is one of a very few cities in the UK without a university but Wakefield College has gone some way to addressing this by providing local access to HE for over 25 years. This provision has grown significantly over the last three years with the opening of the University Centre.
Degrees and higher-level qualifications are awarded by external organisations that include highly regarded institutions such as the universities of Hull and Huddersfield, and Leeds Beckett University. The staff and partners are constantly striving to increase the provision, providing the opportunity for even more students to study locally in a way that can fit in with their existing commitments and offering a local place of study for those not wishing to move away or travel far from home.
The roadshow is seen as a valuable addition to all the other activities taking place to encourage young people to continue their education and realise their full potential. By organising this event in the middle of the city centre we are also hopefully reaching people other events fail to reach but who feel that continuing study could improve their career prospects and standard of living, such as grandparents, people who left education early for whatever reason, and key influencers who may not have experienced HE personally.
Although the number of attendees may appear small to some, we believe this is a huge step forward to promote the benefit of HE in an area that falls well below average in participation within HE when we know that people of all ages are capable, and the opportunities are endless.
We will continue to spread our message with the hope that self-belief and self-fulfilment become the norm in Wakefield and not a below average national statistic!
Jayne Kaye, HE Student Engagement Officer, Wakefield College