Lifelong Learning Centre


PHE Students in class

Realise is a partnership between the University of Leeds and Leeds City College working with adults studying GCSE and equivalent courses at college community bases in Leeds. The programme aims to address the barriers which make it difficult for adults to enter Higher Education and to encourage more people to consider university as a realistic option.

Realise was founded in 2002 on the premise that in order to increase the number of adults from areas of socio-economic disadvantage participating in HE, HE needs to engage with them as potential students at Level 2. Since then we have carried out targeted outreach and development work and delivered a yearly programme of activities for community-based adult learners which aims to stimulate demand for and progression to HE.

Realise activities aim to support learners in their current studies and to increase awareness of routes into HE. Students are invited to subject tasters and study days on the University campus designed to give them an insight into life at Leeds and to allow them to sample the facilities and support on offer. Participants are offered impartial information, advice and guidance (IAG) to help them explore their options for future work and study.

What’s on offer?

  • Subject-specific study days held on the University campus
  • ‘Taster’ events enabling learners to sample aspects of University provision
  • Group and individual IAG sessions, both on campus and in community settings
  • Consultation and staff development events to improve communication between Higher and Further Education

 How do learners benefit?

  • Events scheduled at times convenient to them at accessible venues on the University campus
  • Free study materials to help raise attainment in their current studies
  • Free pre-school childcare and support with transport costs for Realise events
  • Comprehensive information on the different pathways into HE and sources of financial support for degree-level study

What our learners say

I didn’t come from a family where you’d go to university. I got lower grades at school than I should have done and I lost my confidence when I had my children. I started GCSEs because I wanted to know I could do it and I wanted my kids to be proud of me. I thought university was just for rich people. The Realise programme took me out of my own reality – it made me believe I can do more.

I felt brilliant after talking to the advice and guidance person. I went home and told everyone about it. Now my children know my studying is important. My older girl dreams about college work and models herself on me – she knows about my Sociology and Psychology work. It makes me feel proud.


What our partners say

The work creates pathways for progression and changes learners’ perceptions that university is not for them. Even if it’s not practical at the moment because of children, finances or other issues, they realise that they can still work towards it for the future.

It’s quite a revelation to people when they go [to a Realise event] on the campus because they’ve met the people at their own centre, but then they realise that outside the centre in other parts of the city there are people like them. The very act of going to the University is such an eye-opener and that can only be for the good of the community. The study days have helped to improve results. Year on year our results are improving and anything that is extra to the input that tutors are able to give is a benefit to attainment.

For more information on this area of our work please contact Olivia Garvey from the Communities and Partnerships team.