Our Story

FOCUS West (Focus on College and University Study – West of Scotland) is the largest division of the national Schools for Higher Education Programme (SHEP) in Scotland. We work to support young people into Higher Education, whether this is a degree course at a university or a Higher National (HN) qualification in a college.

Our work is on behalf of all universities and colleges and is therefore not connected to any one institution and we offer support regardless of the pupil’s subject area or career path of choice. This allows us to be impartial, inclusive and to offer balanced and helpful advice and guidance to the pupils we support.

Our programme of in-school activities begins in the second year of high school and continues through to the final year.  Activities are concentrated on the Senior Phase of the Curriculum for Excellent (s5 and s6). Alongside our work in schools, our flagship website Focus Point (www.focuspoint.org.uk) gives our pupils in-depth, online careers advice and guidance as well as giving pupils help with college and university applications.

Funded by the Scottish Funding Council, FOCUS West began in 2000 as the GOALS Project and was reformed in 2009 (?) after changes at a national level.  We are now the longest-running, largest and most established programme for pupils in the west of Scotland. Through our Top-Up Programme, delivered by partners at the University of Glasgow, we have the capacity to permit adjusted university offers to pupils at our secondary schools. This offers pupils a concrete benefit to participation and makes us unique in Scotland.

The FOCUS West team has staff in each of the six universities/Higher Education Institutions in the west of Scotland, i.e. the University of Glasgow (Top-Up Programme – for S5/6 pupils), the University of Strathclyde (S3 Into FOCUS and S4 Focus on Four), Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of the West of Scotland (Routes for All Programme – for S5/6 pupils), the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Widening Access to the Creative Industries) and the Glasgow School of Art (Portfolio Development Programme).

The FOCUS West team deliver our in-school programme along with trained student tutors and mentors from colleges and universities in the west of Scotland, all of whom have personal and direct experience of the benefits and challenges of going to university and college. Many of the trained student tutors and mentors have themselves attended the schools that we are active in and have moved on to successful study in Higher Education. They are therefore excellent role models of what pupils can achieve.