The University of Aberdeen and Aberdeen FC have joined forces in a partnership that will strengthen the University's links with local schools and encourage participation in higher education.
The partnership will see the University work with the Aberdeen FC Community Trust (AFCCT) in communities throughout the north-east, providing support and input to the Trust’s successful school and community engagement programmes to encourage pupils to consider coming to university.
This includes the AFCCT Partner Schools Initiative, which runs various activities aimed at addressing poverty-related attainment issues at primary and secondary schools in Aberdeen city and shire.
Experts from the University’s Business School will use the example of a football club to help pupils develop skills in business, numeracy and economics, while the University’s Widening Access Team will organise campus visits to demonstrate that a University of Aberdeen education is open to all.
Meanwhile, the University and AFCCT are exploring other options to work together, including placement opportunities for students, opportunities for skills development for Aberdeen FC staff, online and personal finance training for young footballers through the AFC Youth Academy, and potential coaching support for the University’s football teams.
Welcoming the launch of the partnership, University Principal George Boyne said: “As two local institutions with long and proud histories, I am delighted that the University is working together with Aberdeen Football Club to strengthen our links in the local community and promote participation in higher education.
“Widening access is a top priority for the University, and through this partnership we will benefit from the excellent relationship that the Aberdeen FC Community Trust has built with local schools, helping us engage with pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and send the message that a University of Aberdeen education is open to all.
“Not only this, but we will seek to develop opportunities to work together in areas of mutual interest, for example skills training led by academic staff, or placement opportunities for students.
“I look forward to working together as we build a successful partnership that benefits the communities we serve.”
Steven Sweeney, from Aberdeen FC Community Trust, said: “Aberdeen FC Community Trust is delighted to be entering into this innovative education based partnership with the University of Aberdeen. A recent UEFA Study demonstrated that football delivers €110.4M of economic, social and health benefits to Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire.
“Our collaboration with the University of Aberdeen will add significant value to our collective efforts, but more importantly create additional meaningful opportunities for people in the communities which we are proud to serve.”
Aberdeen FC Commercial Director Rob Wicks added: “Over the past few months Aberdeen FC have established a tremendous working relationship with the University on a number of fronts and it is terrific to see the partnership formally announced today.
“In addition to the excellent work that will be undertaken in respect of widening access, skills development and training across the community, the Club and Trust will be working with the University to measure the outcomes of a new mental health initiative developed by Grassroot Soccer.
“Furthermore, we’re going to be engaging with some of the University’s MSc marketing students during ‘Industry Week’ in March 2019 and the Club’s Heritage Trust is exploring opportunities to work more closely with the University’s Special Collections team so there is certainly widespread and mutually beneficial collaboration as a result of this partnership.”