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Discover US (Year 9 - Year 11)

Discover US is an aspiration-raising programme for pupils who have the potential to access Higher Education but do not have a family tradition of going to university.

We will support you to discover the University of Sheffield for yourself and to find out what it’s really like to be a student with us.

You will be able to sample different subjects and find out about the courses that all five of the University Faculties have to offer - Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities, Science, Engineering, and Medicine, Dentistry & Health.

You will be invited to the University three times in each of Years 9, 10 and 11 and will take part in mini lectures, subject tasters and explore different courses and careers. We will help you find out how your subject choices at GCSE and Post-16 can open doors to a wide range of different professions and opportunities.

All activities will encourage you to develop confidence,  problem solving skills and your ability to work with others. In other words, the skills necessary to be successful at university, and in life.

What's involved?
Year 9

Welcome to US

A welcome evening for students and their parents/carers to find out more about the University and the Discover US programme.

Introduction to US

A tour of the University campus and an activity day designed to help students discover the differences between school and university.

More about US

An activity day designed to introduce students to the University’s faculties and the wide range of courses available at the University of Sheffield.

Year 10

Experience Day 1

An activity day including the opportunity to take part in two practical subject taster sessions and a career planning and decision making workshop.

Experience Day 2

An activity day including the opportunity to take part in two practical subject taster sessions, an introduction to student finance and a money management workshop.

The Student Experience

An overnight residential stay in the University’s student accommodation with lots of opportunities to develop team working, problem solving and communication skills in student life activities and an enterprise challenge.

Year 11

Experience Day 3

An activity day including the opportunity to take part in two practical subject taster sessions and a workshop designed to help pupils develop critical thinking and research skills.

Experience Day 4

An activity day including the opportunity to take part in a practical subject taster session, attend a mini-lecture and workshop designed to help students develop effective note taking skills.

Celebrate with US

A graduation-style awards evening for students, parents/carers and school staff to celebrate the completion of the Discover US programme.

Who can participate?

Students interested in applying should demonstrate the potential to enter Higher Education (HE) through their school work and meet the following academic and Widening Participation (WP) criteria.

Academic Criteria
  • Be on track to achieve a minimum of 5 GCSE’s grade 9-6, plus English at 4, if not already included
WP Criteria
  • Attend a State School


  • Are in the first generation of their family to enter HE (other than siblings, or parents who attended HE as a mature student)

And meet one or more of the following:

  • Are from an area of low progression to HE
  • Live in a neighbourhood which has a low progression rate to Higher Education or an area which has a high level of financial, social or economic deprivation. This is defined by home postcode
  • Are a Looked After Child, Young Carer or estranged from their family
  • Are a student with a declared disability

Prioritisation is then given to students who:

Are from a certain gender, ethnic or socio-economic group

Which is currently under-represented in HE

Have individual circumstances meaning they will need to overcome other barriers to learning/progression

Each application will be considered individually. Exceptional circumstances stated by the students and/or school (such as family upheaval or disrupted schooling for example) will provide additional context to their application

For further information, please refer to ‘Guidance for Schools: Discover US application process’ – see the link at the right of this page.

How to apply

If you are a Year 9 pupil or the parent/carer of a Year 9 pupil, you will need to contact your school and ask to speak to the Discover US co-ordinator for that school.

Information will be sent to schools in September each year. Schools must register to be able to submit applications on-line for the University of Sheffield’s Outreach Programmes.

Please be aware that participants may only be registered on one sustained programme at the University of Sheffield at any one time.