Universities in the north and north-east of Scotland have joined together for the first time in a unique project to support young people in the regions to move into higher education.

Recently released Scottish Government data showed that Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Moray and Highland all recorded decreases in young people moving into ‘positive destinations’ post-school, with Aberdeen City returning the lowest rates in the country.

Positive destinations for school leavers include: higher education, further education, training, voluntary work, employment or activity agreements.

Since the figures were published in February, young people in the region have also had to contend with significant disruption to schooling as a result of the Covid pandemic.

Teams from the University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University (RGU), Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), and the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) are now teaming up to tackle this “unprecedented” decline in positive destinations for local young people.

The partnership is running a series of events over the next academic year to help teenagers who may be considering college or university in the future.

Online evening sessions will cover topics such as career planning, college and university courses, UCAS applications and personal statements. The sessions will also be recorded for young people who cannot attend due to after-school commitments.

In addition, there will be supportive sessions for teachers and parents. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions at the events and pupils will be directed to support projects as appropriate.

Professor Alison Jenkinson, dean for widening access, articulation and outreach at Aberdeen University, said: “Post-pandemic recovery is going to be challenging for many young people in our region so I am delighted to see the higher education institutions in our area working together to support our young people on the journey to positive destinations.”

Duncan Cockburn, executive director of strategy and policy at RGU said: “The university is proud to contribute to this important initiative to address the concerning decline in the number of school leavers progressing to positive destinations throughout the north of Scotland. It will create opportunities for higher education institutions to work together in partnership, ensuring all our young people are fully informed of their post-school options as well as how we can help them develop the knowledge and skills to become future-proof in tomorrow’s world of work.”

Hannah D’Mellow, marketing and student recruitment manager at SRUC, added: “This is a lovely opportunity for us to work with colleagues in universities across the north of Scotland, and a great way to present a whole range of opportunities to young people across the region, in a format that is easiest for them to access.”