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Realising Opportunities

Programme - RO online community

Year - Since 2010

We spoke to their central project management team to discuss the history and the impact of our partnership over the years:

The RO programme is all about supporting students to make informed choices about university, which is why we’ve worked with Brightside since our inception in 2010. Their online mentoring helps young people to make confident and informed decisions about their futures, so we share a joint mission.

The demographic of young people we work with are those statistically less likely to progress to university. With Brightside’s online mentoring platform, we can reach that demographic directly. Mentoring allows for supported decision making. Really important decisions happen with the click of a button.

Our first cohort had 120 students and over the last thirteen years, 5,000 RO students have benefitted from our partnership with Brightside. That’s 5,000 young people who’ve made a connection with a student at a research intensive university for 1:1 information, advice and guidance.

We’ve continued working with Brightside because they take safeguarding really seriously. The moderation feature is great; there’s a list of stop words that send messages to us automatically, so we can intervene if we need to. It also gives us insight into the issues our participants are facing. It's great to see the questions they’re asking. You have to be careful of TV spoilers though.

A lot of our students might find it hard to reach out in a formal way. The beauty of online mentoring is that it’s less formal but still really safe. Our mentees can choose which of our university ambassadors they want to speak to, so if they’ll need to work part time, they can connect with someone who’s studying and working too.

We used to think in-person interventions were key but we’ve found that engagement didn’t change when it moved online. To ensure the programme is having an impact on the students we work with we have a strict evaluation framework which is externally evaluated, something very important to our Partner institutions.

Every year our research shows that RO is having an impact on our students as they progress to study at research intensive universities. In helping to make this decision we think access to a peer is crucial: as it’s this kind of information and support that students can’t get from the universities themselves.

Read more anniversary stories

Jasveen’s story

How my mentor helped me to succeed.

Roshni’s story

I first came across Brightside when my school was offering online mentoring in 2009.

Our 20th anniversary awards ceremony

Jim’s story

Find out how Brightside got its name.

John’s story

We spoke to one of Brightside founders to find out more about our origin story.

Pooja’s story

I really liked being a mentor: it’s awesome to feel like you’re shaping someone’s life.