accessprofessions.com is an entirely online charity which matches students with life-changing university- and career-related opportunities. It is by nature a collaborative project so there are many individuals who and organizations which have contributed to its launch in January 2011.
Much good work is done to improve the chances of non-privileged children accessing the most competitive universities and careers. But most of that work is uncoordinated and unevenly distributed. So in February 2010, following a delayed response from the Government to Alan Milburn’s Fair Access to the Professions recommendations and anticipating further delays caused by the forthcoming general election, I decided to use the experience gained from founding and running Pure Potential, to try and implement and fine-tune one of Milburn’s recommendations (Recommendation 12), outside of government. A concept for an overarching website to establish tangible and effective links between students, teachers, parents, universities, third-sector organisations and firms was presented to some interested and proactive colleagues from interested parties, namely Tessa Stone (BrightsideUNIAID), James Turner (Sutton Trust), Jane Masey (Allen & Overy), Peter Boursnell (Third Sector Forum) and Richard Kennett (University of Southampton). They and I became the working group which would - on a volunteer basis - implement a refined version of the original concept.
With generous seed funding from the Sutton Trust and pro bono legal advice from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, the working group set out to elicit further interest in the project from universities, firms and third sector organizations and picked up some encouraging endorsements from leading figures in politics, business and HE along the way. At the time of writing we have more than thirty partners. We then drew on the deep and broad expertise of all our partners to ensure that we ask the right questions in such a way to maximize the usefulness of the site to all parties.
So, less than a year from inception, the site is up, opportunities are uploaded, and students are finding out about them. Our Working Group would like to thank all those who have helped us get here and show what can come of a year’s good will, hard work and collaboration.
accessprofessions.com, January 2011
Update (November 2012): We are delighted to report the development of a number of relationships. Signatories of PRIME, the legal profession's commitment to providing fair access to quality work experience, and of the Law Society’s Diversity Charter, are now able to upload opportunities to the site.