Social Mobility in the UK: the role of universities Marion Webb Michael Hill Kingston University United Kingdom Social Mobility Social mobility is a measure of how possible it is for people to improve their position in society. It can be inter-generational (i.e. the extent to which people’s success in life is determined by who their parents are) or intra-generational (i.e. the extent to which individuals improve their position during their working lives, irrespective of where they started off). It can be “relative”, which refers to the comparative chances of people with different backgrounds ending up in certain social or income groups or “absolute”, which refers to the extent to which all people are able to do better than their parents. England: Government White Paper : Higher Education:Students at the Heart of the System June 2011 Structure of session Improving Social Mobility - the role of universities World Café exercise (United) Kingdom – the views of four governments The role of universities in improving social mobility Working with potential students and their stakeholders Admissions and transition into higher education Ensuring that students engage, succeed and realise their potential Ensuring that graduates attain graduate level employment The World Café (United) Kingdom – the views of four governments Wales Scotland Northern Ireland England Wales (HEFCW Corporate Strategy 2010 – 13) To deliver: Social justice and a buoyant economy Knowledge Transfer Research Skills Deliver more Student Widening Access productive Deliver improved Experience Ensure that all relationships research Ensure equity, graduates are between higher performance to Ensure that the opportunity and equipped for the education underpin the student learning success in world of work institutions and knowledge experience is of Higher Education and for their role public/private economy and high quality as citizens sectors, local cultural and communities and social renewal other agencies Scotland Vision By the end of this Planning period our vision is for: An enhanced level of confidence, self-reliance, motivation, knowledge, skills and capacities of all those who study at college or university-including an improved capacity for those skills to be utilised effectively; Colleges and universities that are part of a coherent system of lifelong learning in Scotland with improved access for students to, and progression through, further and higher education – based upon ability to learn; Improved knowledge exchange between universities and colleges on the one hand, and business and the public third sectors on the other. Scottish Funding Council Corporate Plan 2009-12 Northern Ireland (Department for Employment and Learning Business Plan 2011-12) The Department’s overall aim is “to promote learning and skills, to prepare people for work and to support the economy”. It is responsible for further and higher education, training and skills, employment programmes and employment law. In pursuing its aim the Department’s key objectives are: To promote economic, social and personal development through high quality learning, research and skills training; and To help people into employment and promote good working practices. It seeks to achieve these through four key areas of activity: Promoting the provision of learning and skills, including entrepreneurship, enterprise, management and leadership; Encouraging research and development, creativity and innovation in the Northern Ireland economy; Helping individuals to acquire jobs, including self employment, and improving the linkages between employment programmes and skills development; and The development and maintenance of the framework of employment rights and responsibilities. England White Paper : Higher Education: Students at the Heart of the System June 2011 Higher education can be a powerful engine of social mobility, enabling able young people from low-income backgrounds to earn more than their parents and providing a route into the professions for people from non-professional backgrounds. But as we set out in our recent strategy for social mobility, Opening Doors, Breaking Barriers, there are significant barriers in the way of bright young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds accessing higher education. This chapter sets out how we will promote fairer access without undermining academic excellence or institutional autonomy. We expect higher education institutions to be active partners, challenged and supported by a strengthened Office for Fair Access (OFFA). English universities and their missions – two contrasting approaches • “XXXX university is one of the worlds leading multidisciplinary universities, committed to engaging with the major issues of our times. At the undergraduate level, XXXX seeks to recruit and retain the academically brightest students who share our values and will thrive in the rigorous teaching and learning environment that XXXX provides. XXX university has had a widening participation strategy in place since 2001. …… outreach work at XXXX has developed into a comprehensive suite of activities aimed at raising the aspirations of those who may not have previously considered higher education and encouraging those from a disadvantaged background to apply to, and ultimately attend, a leading university. English universities and their missions – two contrasting approaches This Access Agreement confirms and underpins the mission of University XXXXX to raise aspiration through excellence and develop creative professionals from diverse academic, social and cultural backgrounds. With over 120 nationalities represented amongst our student body and with over 97% of students progressing from state education, it is evident that University XXXX continues to perform well at reaching out to under-represented groups at a local and national level. However, the University remains committed to improving its widening participation at all levels and will continue to develop strategies to engage further with under-represented groups in Higher Education (HE).
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