Social Mobility Pledge: York St John recognised for tackling social mobility

York St John University joins Social Mobility Pledge to remove barriers to success

York St John University is commended for its work to improve access to higher education, as part of its social mobility commitment.

The former Secretary of State for Education and former Minister for Women and Equalities, Justine Greening, is the founder of the Social Mobility Pledge. The report offers insight into the issues that affect social mobility and the actions taken by the university to remove barriers to success.

Contextual offers

Alongside its collaborative work with secondary schools and further education colleges to raise aspirations for young people, York St John University has developed an innovative contextual offer scheme that recognises the challenges faced by many university applicants.

The grades determining an individual’s future beyond school can be a crude measure of their potential – Rt. Hon. Justine Greening 

Rt. Hon. Justine Greening visited York St John University to hear about its work to improve access to higher education and commented: “The grades determining an individual’s future beyond school can be a crude measure of their potential.

“Poor grades often don’t tell the full story, perhaps masking mitigating circumstances and extra challenges that the person has faced in getting those grades.

“A solution in the higher education sector is the contextualised applications approach, which looks much deeper than the grade sheet to decide on candidates.”

“York St John has taken a significant risk in embracing this approach. By considering applications contextually, the university is helping to curb wasted talent and potential, which is the essence of what the Pledge is striving to achieve.”

Challenging the limits to social mobility

The Social Mobility Pledge is a cross-party campaign which encourages universities and businesses to challenge the privilege and disadvantage that continue to limit social mobility in the UK.

Almost 4,000,000 people from businesses and higher education institutes are now covered by the Pledge, which provides a wealth of knowledge and experience to allow talent to flourish on a more level playing field.


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Rob Hickey, chief operating officer at York St John University said: “The contextual offer scheme is one of several positive, holistic actions we take at York St John University to improve social mobility.

“We recognise that the challenge of inequality is ongoing and that we have a vital role to play in improving opportunities for those who study here and for communities in our region and beyond.

“We’re very happy to share best practice within the higher education sector and hope the outcomes and learnings from this report will inspire changes we can all make towards a fairer society.”

The university’s Social Mobility Pledge report launched on 20 February 2020, the World Day of Social Justice.

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