ZOYA Naz Raja is enjoying life at the University of Bradford.

“There is so much on offer here, from societies to sports as well as the support and services offered. As well as this, the university has many links with industry, which is imperative as a placement student and a graduate,” she says.

The second year computer science student from Heaton chose Bradford from a shortlist of universities around the country. She is among a growing number of students from local secondary schools and colleges who have applied to the university following a new campaign to get more young people in Bradford into higher education.

“My main reason for choosing Bradford was the fact that I was choosing a course which I had no prior experience and my A-levels were not linked to the course,” says Zoya, “I had a passion to learn more about this subject and Bradford felt the right place to do it as I still had the comfort of home while going in to new surroundings and learning something completely new.”

New figures show a 27 per cent increase in 17 and 18-year-olds from the district applying to the University of Bradford, with a rise in almost every ward in the constituency.

This is attributed to a combination of outreach workshops and a new progression scheme introduced last September. Outreach activities include one to one support and guidance from our dedicated outreach and widening participation officer Beth Crossfield, mentoring services, campus visits, workshops, transition activities and in some instances financial support.

The Progression Scheme is open to applicants from areas of low progression to higher education, care leavers or previously looked-after young people, asylum seekers, refugees and mature applicants. These applicants automatically receive an offer which is the equivalent of one A-Level grade lower than the standard entry criteria. There is also the opportunity for these applicants to engage in a number of events on campus to support their transition to university.

Zoya’s sixth form at Bradford Girls’ Grammar School was invited to a schools’ visit day to the University of Bradford. “This influenced my decision, as I wouldn’t have considered it an option if I hadn’t have liked the campus,” she says. “Like many students, I considered different universities and courses, but certain aspects of the University of Bradford, swayed my decision such as the Students Union and how active our union is in comparison to other universities. This was important for me as a home student as it adds to the student life and even though I am a home student, I feel like I live at university.

“As part of my course, with the help of the University’s ‘Careers and Employability Centre’ I have secured a placement with UNISYS, an American global information technology company,” says Zoya.

“The university has provided me with many avenues to explore not only academically but socially. I co-founded the Henna Society with an amazing henna artist and I also play badminton on the university team.”

Kate Miller the university’s UK/EU recruitment manager says: “We are opening people’s minds - many will have driven with their families past the campus many times but not visited it, so by engaging with them and encouraging them to attend open days, we give them an insight.

“There are a lot of boundaries - often they are the first person in their family to go to university, and in areas of low progression to higher education there are not many role models with their peer groups. Fees are also a factor.”

Mark Garratt, director of external affairs at the university said: “We have a fantastic outreach team who deliver some brilliant workshops in schools. The introduction of our progression scheme to help underrepresented groups gain access to higher education is seeing real results and reinforcing our commitment to get more young people into higher education.”

John Tomlinson, progress Leader Post 16 at St. Benedict’s Sixth Form, said: “Many of our students are among the first generation in their family to consider university as an option. “Our students have been able to see with their own eyes what life at university is like through a series of successful workshops and seminars. These have not just promoted the exciting opportunities at the University of Bradford but rather the possibilities that all universities throughout the UK and abroad can offer our young people.

“I am most grateful for the support and relationship that the team have offered the school, my students and indeed staff in school. Without them I am sure that a number of students would not have made the choice to attend university - they have in short, changed lives.”

The University of Bradford has a long established reputation of widening access to higher education, and in supporting a diverse student population to succeed in their academic careers, moving on to valuable, professional and managerial employment. The Progression Scheme further supports this.

For more information about the scheme visit brad.ac.uk/applicants/progression-scheme/ and for more information on the outreach team visit bradford.ac.uk/schools-and-colleges/activities-for-schools-colleges-and-young-people.

Open Days offer an opportunity to find out more.Would-be students can join tours of the campus and accommodation, speak to current students and meet the academics.

For details of the next open day on Saturday June 22 from 9am to 3pm visit bradford.ac.uk/undergraduate/open-day.