Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are to be given the opportunity to access higher education thanks to a network of local support led by the University of Hertfordshire in partnership with other organisations including Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

The university has received a grant of £324,000 to form a network called Herts AHEAD (Accessing Higher Education and Academic Development) which will bring together for the first time all higher and further education providers in the county. It is part of a new £22 million National Networks for Collaborative Outreach (NNCO) scheme which aims to provide young people with the information they need to access further education.

The grant will be used to set up a website with comprehensive information about progression in higher and further education, employability and outreach activities happening in the county. This information can then be shared with schools and colleges across the county to co-ordinate support and advice for young people.

As part of its £200m Growth Deal Hertfordshire LEP is committed to growing the skills base and improving access to further education for all.

Norman Jennings, Hertfordshire LEP Skills and Employment Manager, said: “This collaboration is a great opportunity to help encourage young people into all forms of higher education. Having a highly skilled workforce will be key to the economic growth of the county and therefore we are pleased to be a partner in this exciting project.”

Herts AHEAD is led by the University of Hertfordshire’s Outreach and Widening Participation team in collaboration with: Oakland’s College, Hertford Regional College, North Hertfordshire College, West Herts College, Royal Veterinary College, University Campus St Albans, the Apprenticeships Providers Network, Herts for Learning, Hertfordshire County Council and the LEP.

It is one of thirty-five networks covering the whole of England funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and managed by Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).