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National Recognition for FutureMe!

The North East Uni Connect Programme has been shortlisted for a Times Higher Education (THE) Award for its FutureMe Enterprise Challenge Programme. The programme is one of six initiatives to have been shortlisted in the Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year category which saw hundreds of entries despite a challenging year for the sector. For the first time ever, the ceremony will take place virtually on the 26th of November 2020.

Newcastle University is the lead institution for the Uni Connect Programme in the North East region, funded by the Office for students. The programme brings together a partnership of all universities and colleges in the region to provide activities which aim to increase participation in higher education among underrepresented groups. 

Engaging young men in the North East to consider and apply to higher education is one of the challenges facing the Uni Connect programme in the region. Our solution has been to develop an Enterprise Challenge to capture learner voice and enable young men to develop their own ways of communicating what higher education means to them through a 12-week structured programme. 

Enterprise Challenge is an innovative project created in partnership with our local football club education teams (Foundation of Light, Middlesbrough FC Foundation and Newcastle United Foundation). It is an intensive 12-week programme which utilises the Premier League Enterprise Programme to inspire young people and increase their aspiration and skills and to support informed decisions about higher education.

The challenge was delivered to 450 boys across 44 schools between April – July 2019. The programme is underpinned by a competition in which the boys must create their own storyboard for a digital/media advertisement aimed at encouraging their male peers to consider higher education in the North East. In 2019, the winning team had their storyboard turned unto a 30 second YouTube advertisement (viewed 46,937 times) and each area winner had their storyboard adapted into a comic book which is now being used in schools across the region. This advertisement was launched on North East Live and broadcast on Tyne and Wear TV. 

Kate Murray, Head of Partnerships (Widening Participation) at Newcastle University said: 

“We are delighted to have been shortlisted for this award and to see the work of the partnership being recognised on a national level. The FutureMe Enterprise Challenge showcases the collaboration taking place in the region to best support young people in considering their futures.”

The result will be announced at a virtual ceremony taking place on the 26th of November 2020 and results will be published online shortly after this.


  1. The North East Uni Connect Programme is part of the Uni Connect Programme funded by the Office for Students. The Office for Students is the independent regulator for higher education in England. Our aim is to ensure that every student, whatever their background, has a fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers.  
  2. For more information on Uni Connect visit 
  3. To see the full list of award categories and shortlisted entries visit