Education response

Topics: Higher education, University, Postgraduate education Pages: 94 (43194 words) Published: September 10, 2014
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


Foreword and summary


Chapter 1



Chapter 2

Access all areas


Chapter 3

Making the grade


Chapter 4

Getting ready – reaching out to
potential applicants


Chapter 5

Getting in – university admissions


Chapter 6

Staying in – student retention


Chapter 7

Getting on – student outcomes


Chapter 8

How government can help







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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...

References: 10. Wilson, T., A Review of Business – University
Collaboration, 2012
12. 1994 Group, Submission to Call for Evidence, 2011
at the Heart of the System, 2011
2. HM Government, Opening Doors, Breaking Barriers:
A Strategy for Social Mobility, 2011
3. Higher Education Funding Council for England, Student
Number Controls and Teaching Funding, 2012
4. Lord Browne, Securing a Sustainable Future for Higher
Education in England, 2010
5. ComRes/BBC poll, October 2011
16. Milburn, A., Fair Access to Professional Careers, 2012
6. National Foundation for Educational Research,
Do I Really Need a Degree?, 2012
at the Heart of the System, 2011
England, 2012
International Comparative Performance of the UK
Research Base, 2011
Education, 2010
The Returns to Higher Education Qualifications, 2011
One Step Beyond: Making the Most of Postgraduate
Education, 2010
24. CentreForum, Mastering Postgraduate Funding, 2011
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