Parents / Carers

Realising Opportunities (RO) is an innovative national programme designed for students in Year 12/sixth form college to gain increased access to some of the country’s leading research intensive universities.

Student Testimonial

It has helped develop my academic profile as it has encouraged me to work harder to achieve the grades I want so I can get into a research intensive university. It has also helped me to decide which universities I want to apply to.

Realising Opportunities Student - 2013

RO students will benefit from increased information, advice and access to the RO universities. The Programme they follow will ensure they are better equipped for university life and understand what research intensive universities can offer.

Additional Consideration

When students apply to any of the RO universities, their UCAS application will be given additional consideration.

Alternative Offer

Many of the RO universities also given alternative offers worth up to two grades lower than the standard offer to students who successfully complete the programme. All alternative offers given through UCAS are dependent on the university and course students apply for and it is recommended that students contact the university before they apply.

For more information about the recognition offered by the RO universities please refer to the Recognition Guide on the Resources page.

Skills Development

Students will learn and develop key skills that will help them to be successful in their current studies and also at university.
Students must complete an independent piece of research as part of the programme as well as an online study module giving them skills in researching, planning, critical thinking, analysis and referencing.

Advice for the Future

Students will gain an understanding of what a research intensive university is and the benefits of studying at one. Through events and activities such as masterclasses and residential visits they will learn more about university life and their subject choices. Students are also allocated a dedicated ementor from one of the RO universities who will guide them through an interactive support programme and students will have access to a wide range of resources and activities on the ementoring site.

Access to Professional Careers Information

Students will have access to information and advice from a range of professionals  and employee organisations, in the past we have worked with UKCAT, The Nuffield Foundation and Teach First.  Please see the Organisations We Work With page.

To take part in the Realising Opportunities (RO) Programme students must meet our eligibility criteria. 
Applications to the RO Programme are made in the Autumn Term of Year 12.

Students must be in Year 12 at an eligible school or college which is participating in RO. They should check with their Head of Year/ Sixth Form or college tutor to find out if their school/college is participating in RO.


Students must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Have achieved at least 8 A* to C or 9 – 4 grades at GCSE (or equivalent, eg GNVQ, BTEC Certificate) including English Language and Mathematics*

  • Of these 8 GCSEs or equivalent, at least 5 must be at grade A*, A, B, 9, 8, 7 or 6*

  • Be a Home/EU registered student or expect to be by the time they apply for higher education.

Students must also meet at least two of the following criteria^:

  • Live in a neighbourhood which has a low progression rate to higher education or an area which has a high level of financial, social or economic deprivation. This is defined by home postcode

  • Come from a home where neither parent attended university in the UK or abroad. (If one or more parent is currently studying their first degree, or graduated from their first degree within the last five years, an application will still be considered)

  • Be in receipt of or entitled to discretionary payments/16-19 bursary/Pupil Premium at school/college

  • Be in receipt of or entitled to free school meals.

Or alternatively meet the following:

  • Be living in, or have lived in, local authority care**

  • Or be a young carer.**

*Extenuating circumstances
If students do not meet the prior attainment outlined in step 2 or at least two of the criteria outlined in step 3, but have experienced difficult family or individual circumstances that may affect their performance in exams or the likelihood of them going to university, their application may still be considered on an individual basis. Circumstances considered include, but are not limited to, students who live independently from their families, those experiencing significant family issues or those students who have a disability/health condition which may have affected their educational achievements.

**Those defined as living in, or who have lived in, local authority care are those who are being looked after by their local authority, either living with foster parents/other family members such as grandparents, at home with their parents under the supervision of social services, in a residential children’s home or in another residential setting such as school or secure unit, or someone who has experienced a period of three months in the care of the local authority within the last ten years.
Those defined as young carers are those who under the age of 18 who help look after someone in their family, or a friend, who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol. There is no time limit on the amount of care they provide for their dependents, this is just above and beyond what is normally expected.

This page contains resources to tell you more about the Realising Opportunities (RO) Programme, the RO universities and Student Finance information

RO Guides

Parent Carer Leaflet

This leaflet provides information about who participates in the Programme, what being on the Programme involves, the benefits for students, and the support they will receive.

Academic Assignment Guide for Parents 2014

This Guide tells you more about the Academic Assignment which forms the academic element of the Programme for some of the RO students. To find out more about the Academic Assignment and how this forms part of the RO Programme please go to the Programme page.

RO Universities Information Pages

Many of the RO universities have further resources and information for Parents and Carers, please follow the links below to find out more.
University of Birmingham
– information for parents and guardians
University of Bristol – information for parents and carers
University of Essex
– information for parents and families
University of Exeter
– information for parents
King’s College London
– information for parents
University of Leeds
– information for parents and supporters
University of Leicester 
– information for parents and guardians
University of Liverpool
– information for parents and supporters
University of Manchester
– information for parents
Newcastle University
– information for parents
University of Sheffield
– information for parents
University of Warwick
– information for parents
University of York
– information for parents and carers

Brightside Knowledge Bank

Our ementoring site provider Brightside has developed a bank of resources which is openly accessible to everyone. There is also more information on the site about ementoring.

Student Finance

If you want to find out more about Student Finance, the links below will provide some useful information. Directgov’s Student Finance page

Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert Guide to Student Loans
Student Finance Guide 2014