Two new reports from Make Happen build on work to level up

  • Date

    Wed 1 Dec 21

Students talking and Make Happen logo

Two new reports released this week set out a roadmap for levelling up in Essex by improving access to education, supporting the aspirations of young people, and promoting equality through diversity and inclusion.

Make Happen, the Office for Students’ Uni Connect partnership in Essex, has today launched a Levelling Up action plan to boost opportunities across the county and beyond. The plan coincides with the publication of Make Happen’s Phase Two report, which outlines the impact and achievements of its work between August 2019 and July 2021.

Make Happen, which is led by the University of Essex and also works with universities, local authorities as well as schools and colleges, has developed an ambitious Levelling Up plan to continue its work to spread opportunities evenly, working in partnership with former Education Secretary Rt Hon Justine Greening and the Purpose Coalition.

The plan highlights several areas where Make Happen is leading the way in levelling up by working with its partners to deliver a tailored programme of outreach activity aimed at supporting the aspirations of the least represented student groups in higher education across Essex.

The Purpose Coalition, of which Make Happen is a partner, aims to improve social mobility in the UK and has launched its own Levelling Up Goals that build on the foundations laid by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Make Happen’s work meets three of these goals: to achieve positive destinations for young people aged 16 and over, to provide the right advice and experiences, and to achieve equality through diversity and inclusion.

The first two phases of the Uni Connect programme, delivered across Essex by Make Happen, started in January 2017, and ran until July 2021. In that time the programme has reached almost 90,000 students across Essex through tailored events, workshops, campus visits and tours. As Make Happen moves into the third phase of activity from August 2021, its Phase Two report evaluates the past two years’ activity and looks ahead to July 2022. Using the programme’s vast experience, it details the activities it will offer to maintain momentum and extend its reach further. This includes supporting progression rates onto university-level study for students attending further education as well as a focus on adult learners, and providing information, advice and guidance to military families and care experienced students.

Stephen Pomfret, Head of Make Happen, said: “We continue to provide levelling up opportunities for the least represented student groups across Essex. Our action plan sets out our continued commitment to raise students’ aspirations, promote their interest in higher education, and help them achieve their life ambitions – no matter what barriers may be in their way.”

Justine Greening said: “It’s great to be able to launch Make Happen’s ambitious Levelling Up action plan and celebrate some of the brilliant work that is happening. The programme’s intuitive and adaptable approach, developed in conjunction with, and as a result of, its broad range of local and regional partnerships, is making a real difference to levelling up in Essex.”

Professor Lorna Fox O’Mahony, Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Essex and Chair of the Make Happen Executive group, said: “The levelling up agenda provides a real opportunity for a new mindset to be established. Like Make Happen, it focuses on equality of opportunity and positive outcomes. Our Levelling Up action plan demonstrates the determination our universities, colleges, schools and stakeholders have in working together to make a difference.”

The launch of Make Happen’s Phase Two report provides supporting evidence to show how its work is making real and positive change and the report’s data show very encouraging signs. For example, during Phase Two, of the 3,774 unique students who completed a survey over half described themselves as “likely to apply after attending a Make Happen activity”.

Stephen Pomfret added: “Our data shows there is a broad cohort of young people in Essex who are considering higher education. Our activities and guidance are making a difference by helping them to navigate their own way towards opportunities they may not initially consider to be within their reach – so that they can realise their own potential and educational aspirations.”

To find out more about Make Happen please visit