Access to Higher Education, Mature learners, Student Experience, Widening Participation

What do you have to do to get a place on Go Higher? By Claire Jones

This time of year is always interesting for the tutors on Go Higher as it is when we get to meet the people who may become our students next year. Applications are at their busiest now, as offers of places are made by the end of July and we begin the new academic year at the start of September.

This last few weeks I have got to meet people from  many different backgrounds and ages, all with unique stories as to why they want to do Go Higher, most with a view to starting an undergraduate degree programme in September 2016. This is not the only reason people apply to us however and some students join us undecided as to what  they want to do next after completing the course. They come to Go Higher to widen their options, experience being a part-time student and to have a second chance at higher education.

Often people tell us that they were simply not ready for higher education when they were 16 or 18 and could not wait to leave school. After some years away from education, they now really value the chance to study on their own terms and have come to realise that they want a career, not a job, and that Go Higher is their first stepping stone to this. For others life, a family or the need to move home and/or countries, got in the way so that they never really realised their potential or satisfied their thirst for learning. It is not uncommon for some of our applicants to confide that poor health prevented them doing as well at school as they should have and gaining entry qualifications. Go Higher is their chance to rectify that and catch up with the opportunities they would have had had they been well. This is just a snapshot of the kind of people who end up as Go Higher students: all of them are different and everyone is unique.

Well, not quite perhaps, as most people seem nervous about coming in for interview, fearing what tortures we have in waiting for them (pass me the thumbscrews…). In fact, the ‘interview’ is really just an informal chat so we can get to know the applicant and their hopes/expectations, and ensure that we are right for them as well as the other way around. We may ask if there is a particular degree course that the applicant is aiming for (often they just have a vague idea, which is fine) and we’ll ask questions to ensure they are committed and that they are ready for a fast-track course which will be intense and challenging at times. Applicants also sit a brief literacy and maths assessment – this is very straightforward and designed to assess and reassure that they have the basic skills to succeed  – and to see if they will need extra support or preparation.

So, that’s all the hurdles we put you through to be considered for a place on Go Higher – apart from actually applying by filling in the forms. These can be downloaded from our official University of Liverpool web at

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