Hundreds of South Wales Schoolchildren Enjoy First Campus Summer Projects at Cardiff Metropolitan University

First Campus at Cardiff Metropolitan University has once again made the most of campus facilities by hosting hundreds of school children and showing them the opportunities a University education can provide in their summer projects.

First Campus is a programme developed in partnership with the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) which aims to increase higher education participation from groups and communities in Wales by raising aspirations, and creating new study opportunities and learning pathways to higher education.

The overall goal of the First Campus Residential project, which provides a 3 day long stay on campus, is to give participants an insight into life as an undergraduate student by giving them the opportunity to stay in halls of residence, study a degree course, meet a wide range of new people and of course, graduate.

Eighty-eight Year-9 pupils from eight schools took part in this year's event, including Willows High School, St Illtyd's Catholic High School, Eastern High School, Glyn Derw and Michaelston Federation, Tonyrefail Comprehensive School, Heolddu Comprehensive School, Treorchy Comprehensive School and Porth County Community School.

The children stayed on campus for three days and were offered the opportunity to study the subject of their choice including Sport, Food Technology, Ceramics, Business, Astronomy (at Cardiff University), Engineering (at the University of South Wales) and Hospitality. They were invited to attend extracurricular activities as well, such as student parties, a BBQ, curry night and Fresher's day. On the afternoon of the last day, pupils even enjoyed a mock graduation.

Current and previous student ambassadors help run the project, including Hannah Pretty who first became involved when she was a second-year student, seven years ago. She is now Neighbourhood Sport Coordinator with Sport Cardiff, and has been running the Sport Degree on the residential for the last two years.

She said: "It was a great experience for me, as I got to lead a group of young people and support them through, for a lot of them, their first trip away from home. As a student, it enabled me to develop my leadership and communication skills, which I believe improved my skill set and enhanced my employability."

The First Campus Summer School is aimed at Key Stage 4 and 5 pupils from schools and colleges across South East Wales who have the ability to succeed but, because of family, personal or other circumstances, are experiencing barriers which may prevent their progression to higher education.

Cardiff School of Health Science, Cardiff School of Sport, Cardiff School of Art and Design and Cardiff School of Management also all contributed to this year's Summer School, providing pupils with a wide range of subjects to choose from: Biomedical Science/ Environmental Health, Ceramics, Animation and Computer Game Design, Events Management and Hospitality, Dance and PE, or Fashion Marketing.

Jane Bellamy, Lecturer in Dance, Cardiff School of Sport, explained: "The Summer School was a great opportunity for young people to meet, learn new skills and have a taste of studying at university. It also gave them an insight to the relevance of the degree programme to the real world and possible routes into employment."

She added: "What impressed me most was the participants' focus and engagement. This experience gave them the confidence to work both independently and collaboratively and, as far as PE is concerned, culminated in them showcasing their creative skills in a dynamic performance fusing Dance and Parkour which was enjoyed by an enthusiastic young audience."