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How we work with universities

We’ve been working with higher education institutions over the last twenty years to develop mentoring programmes that support student access, participation and success.

We work closely with widening participation and student success teams to offer mentoring support at key transition points throughout the student lifecycle.

We do this through three different mentoring structures:

Who?  13-18-year-old students who want to explore their future education pathways and understand their next steps.

Why?  To help students decide on the best path for them, based on their future ambitions, skills or goals, and to better understand higher education, including what university life and study is like, student finance, and higher and degree apprenticeships.

The impact?  Participants on the programme will have a better understanding of their next steps and be able to make the decisions that are right for them, as well as feeling more confident about higher education and applying to university in the future.

Mentee’s verdict:  

“[Brightside mentoring has] been an invaluable opportunity to get real-time perspective on what it’s like attending university in a pandemic.”

Read More.

Who?  17 year-olds (and older) who’ve decided higher education is right for them and are ready to apply to apply through UCAS or a degree apprenticeship

Why?  To support those ready to apply to higher education to navigate the application process, including advice and guidance on deciding the right institution and course, writing personal statements, the UCAS process and managing offers.

The impact?  Students are able to make the best decision for them, as they’ll have received bespoke information, advice and guidance about their options, feel more confident about their choice, and get 1:1, tailored support through the often challenging UCAS process or degree apprenticeship applications.

Mentee verdict:  

“[Brightside mentoring is] an individualised mentoring scheme which supports students with their journey to university with unique advice.”

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Who?  Students with an offer from a university or a place on a degree apprenticeship, who are set to start higher education in the near future.

Why?  To help ease the often challenging period for students before they start in higher education, including helping them to feel part of their university community and make friends, understand their support networks once they start, and adapt to a different style of teaching and learning.

The impact?  Students feel more confident and comfortable about their move into higher education, by reducing stress, anxiety and confusion, and the programme reduces the number who drop out in the early stages of higher education.

Mentee verdict: 

“[Brightside mentoring] helped with paving my decisions to a brighter path, giving tips along the way and relieved my questions that caused me worry about the future.”

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Since 2020, we have regularly brought together universities and Uni Connect consortia to work together and reach students across the UK.

Our collaborative programmes include Prepare for Uni, which reassures and settles students who are imminently starting in HE by matching them with current students, Young Refugees, which utilised expertise from Refugee Education UK to provide needed support and guidance to young refugees to navigate the UK HE system, and Bright Carers, working with young carers aged 14-18.

The collaborative programmes are an opportunity for us and our partners to share expertise, experience and best practice and ensure we have the most positive impact on the young people we reach.

Get Connected with the University of Chester

In 2022, we partnered with the University
of Chester for the second time to deliver
Get Connected, a 20-week mentoring
project for offer-holders from schools with
low higher education participation rates
and under-represented groups.

The programme aimed to develop mentees’ coping skills, build mentees’ sense of belonging with the University of Chester and increase mentees’ understanding of university study and student life.

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Understanding the difference between learning and teaching styles at uni compared to college/sixth form increased by 22 percentage points.

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Knowledge of student life increased by 15 percentage points.

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The feeling of being connected with the student community at the University of Chester increased by 12 percentage points. 

Chester made me feel so at home and part of a community...I didn't feel like just a number.


The Brightside team is fantastic! Their knowledge and expertise made the design and implementation of the project seem effortless.

University of Chester

Case study - Bright Carers

In 2021, we designed, developed and ran our Bright Carers programme, bringing together seven universities and Uni Connect consortia and expertise from The Children’s Society to support young carers aged 14-18. 

With the pandemic in 2020 leading to 66% of young carers feeling more stressed and 67% feeling more worried about the future, our programme aimed to help build their confidence and resilience as well as increase their knowledge of HE, the benefits of HE, and the application process.

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of mentees had a better understanding of the HE application process by the end of the programme

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messages were sent on average by mentees

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of mentees said the conversations with their mentor helped them feel optimistic about the future

My Brightside mentor has always motivated me to pursue my dream and has assisted me in the [university] application process, making me realise that I am capable of going down this path.

Year 12 mentee

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