81% think universities should be graded on social mobility

The Social Mobility Pledge asked whether social mobility should affect a university’s ranking

Universities should be graded on social mobility, a new poll suggests.

Four out of five (81%) respondents to the survey, conducted on behalf of the Social Mobility Pledge (SMP), said they would like the metric to affect HEIs’ overall rankings.

Former education secretary Justine Greening used a speech at Nottingham Trent University to reveal findings from the poll which asked whether a university’s performance on social mobility should be used to judge success.

Over three-quarters of respondents agreed universities ought to include the measurement, although fewer than 30 per cent thought it ‘definitely’ should.


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The poll of 2,000 people was carried out by independent research company Censuswide using a nationally representative sample of people aged 18 and over.

The SMP initiative was founded in March 2018 by Greening to encourage UK employers to play a bigger role in improving social mobility.

Commenting ahead of her visit, Greening said: “Universities’ role in society and the impact they can have on social mobility extends way beyond purely academic and employment measurements. What our research overwhelmingly shows is that people, especially students themselves, want to know how effective universities are at changing life trajectories and opportunities, not simply hitting quotas for the sake of it.

“Nottingham Trent is a great example of a university that understands the importance of this. They are using technology to track signals often missed by the human eye and to then generate an intervention in good time. The overall effect is improved engagement, which is a key factor in higher levels of social mobility.”

The universities of Bristol, Chester, Edinburgh, Manchester, Sunderland, Warwick, Sussex, Kings College London, Aston, Nottingham Trent, London South Bank and York St John have all signed up to the SMP.


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