The funding has been awarded under the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP), following a successful joint bid by the Higher Education Progression Partnership (HEPP), Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield.
The programme is part of the government’s commitment to double the participation of students in higher education from disadvantaged backgrounds by 2020 and increase the number of black and minority ethnic (BME) students by 20 per cent over the same time period.
This programme is only available in specific regions, including South Yorkshire, in schools where participation in university courses or degree level apprenticeships is lower than would be expected based on GCSE results.
The South Yorkshire bid includes a number of other partners including regional further education colleges, all four local authorities, Business in the Community and the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership.
The funding of £12.9 million will be provided over four years, with the activities in partner schools and colleges starting in January 2017.
There will be a varied programme of engagement for pupils aged 13 to 18-years-old in Y9 to Y13, with participating schools closely involved in the planning and monitoring of activity in order to meet their particular needs.
There will also be opportunities for parents and communities to become involved.
Sheffield Hallam University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chris Husbands, said: “This new funding gives us a fabulous opportunity to target and extend our collaborative outreach work to a broader range of young people.
“We want to raise the aspirations of these young people who think university isn’t achievable by working closely with schools and colleges to highlight the higher education opportunities available to them.”
Professor Wyn Morgan, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching at the University of Sheffield and Chair of the HEPP board, added: “The two universities in Sheffield have an excellent track record of working collaboratively to support schools and colleges in the city and region.
“This funding will help to reach those most disadvantaged in the region to realise their potential and achieve success through higher education.”
HEPP is jointly funded by Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield and provides targeted activities and impartial information to schools and colleges across the Sheffield city region to help prepare their students to make decisions about higher level study.