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Education response

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Text Preview A progress report by the
Independent Reviewer on
Social Mobility and Child Poverty

October 2012

University Challenge: How Higher Education Can Advance Social Mobility A progress report by the Independent Reviewer on Social Mobility and Child Poverty October 2012

University Challenge:
How Higher Education Can
Advance Social Mobility

Contents

Foreword and summary

1

Chapter 1

Introduction

11

Chapter 2

Access all areas

19

Chapter 3

Making the grade

27

Chapter 4

Getting ready – reaching out to
potential applicants

33

Chapter 5

Getting in – university admissions

45

Chapter 6

Staying in – student retention

59

Chapter 7

Getting on – student outcomes

67

Chapter 8

How government can help

75

Annex

Acknowledgements

87

References

89

© Crown copyright 2012
You may reuse this information (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the
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email: [email protected]
Where we have identified any third party copyright
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If you have an enquiry regarding this publication,
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1

Foreword and summary

Rt. Hon. Alan Milburn,

Independent Reviewer on Social Mobility and Child Poverty

Like so many others of
my generation I was the
first in my family to go
to university. It was an
experience that changed
my life. As a child from
a council estate I was
lucky enough to end
up in the Cabinet. I was
born at the right time. In
mid-20th-century Britain
social mobility was in full swing. By 1958, when I
was born, the prospect of a more classless society
seemed within reach. Half a century later such
optimism looks hopelessly misplaced. Intractable
levels of social inequality and a flatlining in social
mobility have thwarted repeated attempts to
realise the post-war vision of a fair society.
Every cloud, however, has a silver lining. In the
aftermath of the global financial crisis a new public
– maybe even political – consensus has begun to
emerge that entrenched inequality and ossified
social mobility are not viable propositions for
Britain. Institutions, from banks to governments,
are having to answer new questions about how
they will change what they do in order to change
how society works. Universities are no exception.
This report asks what universities are doing to help
create a Britain that is more socially mobile, and
what more they could do. The answer to the first
question seems to be quite a lot. The answer to
the second is that they could, and should, be doing
a lot more – and in a far more focused way.

We are blessed in Britain to have a world-leading
higher education sector. Our universities are a
great source of strength for the country and their
role – in an increasingly knowledge-based economy
– is becoming more and more central to our
future prosperity. Universities are also becoming
increasingly central to our future social prospects.
Education and employability are the keys that
can unlock both individual citizens’ and countries’
progress. Who gets into university and how they
get on once they have left will have a critical role
in determining whether Britain’s sluggish rates of
social mobility can be improved. In recent years
it has become commonplace to focus on the
economic good that universities bring to Britain.
Today, there needs to be an equal focus on the
social good they can bring.

Recent progress and new risks
The last four decades... Show More

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