Aberdeen University has formed a striking partnership with The Dons aimed at helping children score high marks and move onto higher education.
The two north-east institutions have forged a new bond in an attempt to strengthen the university’s links with local schools.
Staff from the 15th century learning establishment will work with the Aberdeen FC Community Trust (AFCCT), a charity attached to the club, in communities throughout the north-east to inspire pupils to consider going to university.
AFCCT already runs an initiative whereby Dons representatives visit primary and secondary schools and carry out activities designed to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds thrive.
Yesterday star winger Gary Mackay-Steven took part in one such visit to Tullos Primary School in Torry to celebrate the launch of the partnership.
Experts from the university’s Business School will now join in on such expeditions, and use Aberdeen FC as an example to help football-mad youngsters comprehend how business, numeracy and economic knowledge is essential to the successful running of a sporting outfit.
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And campus visits will be held to demonstrate that higher education “is open to all”.
Steven Sweeney, from AFCCT, said: “This collaboration will add significant value to our collective efforts, but more importantly create meaningful opportunities for people in the communities which we are proud to serve.”
Aberdeen FC commercial director, Rob Wicks, said the club will also work with the university to measure the results of a new mental health initiative.
The university and AFCCT are exploring other options to work together such as placement opportunities for students, opportunities for Aberdeen FC staff to develop their skills, online and personal finance training for young footballers through the AFC Youth Academy, and potential coaching support for the university’s football teams.
University principal George Boyne has made it his mission to attract youngsters from poorer families into studying.
He said: “As two local institutions with long and proud histories, I am delighted that the university is working with Aberdeen FC to promote participation in higher education.
“Widening access is a top priority and, through this partnership, we will benefit from the excellent relationship that the Aberdeen FC Community Trust has built with local schools.
“That will help us engage with pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and send the message that a University of Aberdeen education is open to all.”