Access Cambridge Archaeology are delighted to announce we have been awarded funding from the University of Cambridge Widening Participation Project Fund to support the continuation of our Higher Education Field Acadmies (HEFA) programme for three years from 2012 – 2015. The HEFA programme has long been one of the flagship activities of Access Cambridge Archaeology, comprising 3-day educational aspiration-raising learning-extension university-familiarisation investigative courses aimed at state school students interested in studying any subject at university. In 2012-15 HEFA will be targeted at the brightest students from sectors currently under-represented in Higher Education who we wish to encourage to apply to top universities including the University of Cambridge.
HEFA comprises three-day non-residential courses which provide bright young people with the opportunity to work in small, mixed-school teams to collect, analyse and write up their unique new finds and observations made during a 2-day archaeological excavation. Participants make new discoveries which contribute to academic research at the University of Cambridge, while developing new skills for life and learning, becoming more familiar with life at university, and finding out about the benefits and practicalities of applying to University.
The HEFA programme was funded in 2005-2011 by Aimhigher (the government-funded partnership between schools and higher education institutions to widen participation in Higher Education amongst under-represented groups), the European Social Fund and HEFCE. Over this period around two thousand young people took part in HEFA courses, successfully boosting numbers interested in applying to university by up to 60%. In 2010 HEFA achieved endorsement by the OCR exam board for its high academic value. A report on HEFA in 2009-2010 including feedback from students and school staff can be seen here.
In 2011, the future of the HEFA programme was threatened by the demise of Aimhigher. However, the University has chosen through its WP Project Fund to provide HEFA with financial support for a further three years in recognition of the programme’s effective targeting of students, delivery of objectives and assessment of impact.
ACA in 2012-15 will be dedicated to working with schools to engage the brightest students from backgrounds or areas with low progression rates to University to attend HEFA courses and raise their academic aspirations by giving them the chance to learn, apply and demonstrate a wide range of academic and personal skills while finding out more about applying to Cambridge. As such, we are currently offering free places to students from groups currently under-represented in Higher Education, such as those who would be in the first generation of their family to attend university.