National Citizen Service Bill receives Royal Assent as new social mobility research shows participation in NCS boosts university admission

A new report using data from UCAS shows young people who take part in the extra-curricular National Citizen Service programme are significantly more likely to get into university, with an almost 50% increase in higher education participation for the most disadvantaged.

A groundbreaking new longitudinal research report released today shows that young people who take part in the National Citizen Service (NCS) are significantly more likely to get into university. The impact is greatest among those from the most disadvantaged areas, amounting to half of the current gap in university admission between the poorest areas and the rest in a major boost for social mobility.

This data is released following the National Citizen Service Bill receiving Royal Assent, having received cross party support. The legislation will help ensure that NCS is there for young people for generations to come, enshrining the programme in statute and granting it a Royal Charter. It will also help NCS to grow even more quickly, with the ability to write to all young people as they turn sixteen, inviting them to take part in the summer programme. This summer more than 100,000 young people are expected to take part in NCS, with over 5,100 signed up in the North East, making it the largest and fastest growing youth movement for 16-17 year olds in the country.

As teenagers prepare to take exams, the report, which analyses data provided by UCAS, shows that university admission is about more than just exam grades. Since its launch in 2009, NCS has given more than 300,000 young people from all social backgrounds the opportunity to spend four weeks experiencing the great outdoors, learning important life skills and volunteering in their local community.

This new social impact report revealed that the higher education participation rate for NCS graduates was on average 12% higher than for non-NCS graduates. However, most marked was the impact of NCS on young people living in areas of low and medium participation in higher education. The data revealed NCS graduates living in areas with the lowest rates of higher education participation were almost 50% more likely to go onto university or college than non-NCS graduates – thereby closing the higher education participation gap between these areas and the current national average by more than half.

In addition, the research report released today also looked at the significant impact that NCS has on boosting wellbeing, increasing life satisfaction and reducing anxiety. Taken together with the impact on university admissions, it found that the government funded programme had a positive return on investment. For every pound invested in NCS, up to £8.36 was returned in social benefits.

In the North East NCS is delivered by a partnership of v•Inspired and the National Youth Agency (NYA) alongside thirteen local delivery partners.

Contract Director for NCS North East, Kim Smith, said: “The passing of Royal Assent further cements NCS as a rite of passage for young people in the North East. The latest research that suggests NCS graduates are more sought after for university places is encouraging, particularly for deprived areas of the region where NCS has opened up the option of university for many. It is also worth noting that NCS boosts the CVs and personal statements for young people looking to secure apprenticeships and jobs with leading companies such as Accenture, who offer digital sector bootcamps for NCS North East graduates, as well as many local authorities and colleges, who recognise the value of NCS.”

Michael Lynas, CEO, NCS, said: “This important longitudinal study shows that NCS helps young people to get on in life – especially those from less well off backgrounds. NCS is leading to a 50% increase in higher education admission among the most disadvantaged – giving young people a leg up by learning vital life skills that can’t be taught in a classroom. The investment in young people’s futures has a big social return for our country, up to over £8 for every £1 invested. I’d urge all sixteen year olds to take part in NCS after GCSEs this summer. Not only will they make new friends and have an adventure, they will also be fast tracking their future.”

Stephen Greene, Chair, NCS, said: “Today marks a milestone in the history of NCS. We are immensely proud of what the young people have achieved and the network of brilliant organisations who have made the programmes happen. Receiving Royal Assent recognises the vital role that NCS has in helping young people realise the difference they can make to their futures, their communities and their country. As we make the transition to being a Royal Charter body we will be seeking ways to partner with even more organisations, helping us ensure NCS is accessible to every young person in the land.”

Lord David Blunkett, Board Member, NCS, said: “NCS represents a fundamental investment in the future of our country, building strong foundations and knitting together the bonds that tie us together as citizens.”


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