Interested in taking part?


Realising Opportunities (RO) is an innovative national programme which supports the progression of talented students to leading research intensive universities. The RO Programme will develop your skills and provide you with support and information to help you make informed decisions about your future.

By taking part in the RO Programme you will benefit from the following:

Additional Consideration

  • All RO universities will give additional consideration to your UCAS application

Alternative offer

  • The majority of RO universities will give you an alternative offer worth up to two A level grades lower
  • Please refer to the Recognition Guide on the Resources page for more information about this.

Skills Development

  • You will develop a range of skills to help you with your current studies and for your future studies at university
  • You will undertake an independent piece of research as part of the Programme which will develop your skills in researching, planning, critical thinking, analysis and referencing

Advice for your future

  • You will gain an understanding of research intensive universities and have increased access to the RO universities including the opportunity to attend events and activities such as master classes and residential visits
  • You will receive support from a dedicated ementor who is a current student at one of the RO universities as well as access to a wide range of resources and activities on the ementoring site

Access to careers information

  • You will have access to professionals who will offer you career advice and information
To take part in the Realising Opportunities (RO) Programme you must meet our eligibility criteria. 
Applications to the RO Programme are made in the Autumn Term of Year 12.

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

Your Eligibility

You 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 you 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 you do not meet the attainment criteria or at least two of the additional criteria but have experienced difficult family or individual circumstances that may have affected your performance in exams or the likelihood of you going to university, your application may still be considered on an individual basis. You must discuss this with your teacher/tutor before making an application. 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.

The structured and interactive Realising Opportunities (RO) Programme will help you develop your academic skills, improve your awareness of higher education and knowledge of how to apply to university. It will also give you increased access to the RO universities through events and activities.

Local Launch
The Local Launch event provides an introduction to Realising Opportunities and the RO Programme of activities and events.

Each student is matched to a current student at one of the RO universities. Ementoring offers support, advice and guidance throughout the Programme.

National Student Conference
The event is attended by RO students from across the country. Students get to meet their ementor, attend skills based workshops and meet representatives from all the RO universities.

This online study module and test helps to develop key academic skills that will be useful in both A level work and at university.

Academic Element
The Academic Element demonstrates students have the ability to complete an independent piece of research. It is made up of either the EPQ or the RO Academic Assignment.

Events and Activites
Students have access to events and activities at all of the RO universities around the country as well as residential opportunities.

Access to Professions
RO provides lots of great ways to find out more about professions and career options from meeting employers at the National Student Conference to following a dedicated coaching programme online.

Student Testimonial

Overall I am very happy I have taken part in RO. In year 12 it is somewhat hard to fathom how much of an advantage extra consideration and lower offers gives you as an applicant until you reach the point of applying and I am very grateful for being given the opportunity to take part in this programme.

RO Student - 2013