New paper highlights best practice in levelling up HE access

The Levelling Up Universities Coalition’s white paper details the actions and projects with the most positive impact on students and communities

The Levelling Up Universities Coalition (LUUC) yesterday (4 July) launched a best practice white paper detailing actions and projects with the most positive impact on students and communities.

“[The] paper is full of brilliant, practical examples of levelling up,” said Justine Greening, chair of the Purpose Coalition, of which LUUC forms a part, at its Westminster launch.

“Not only does it highlight opportunities being spread to those from under-represented backgrounds, but also the wider impact that universities can have through research, procurement, and many other things.

“It has never been a more important time to reap the wider benefits of the successful approaches contained in this paper, as the levelling up debate necessarily shifts onto practical solutions.”

Schemes detailed by the white paper include activities helping widening participation in higher education, collaboration with local businesses, and case studies from students whose lives have been transformed by HE.

The various initiatives we have been recognised for really do change people’s lives – Prof Shirley Congdon

Among the institutions commended in the paper is the University of Bradford. Its schemes and initiatives cited as best practice include:

  • A progression scheme (also known as contextualised admissions) seeking to widen participation in HE by ensuring factors beyond applicants’ control do not adversely hinder their access
  • A widening participation programme targeting adult learners, care experienced students, estranged students, people from low participation neighbourhoods, refugees and asylum seekers, and white, working class males
  • The Bradford branch of the Children’s University, a national scheme to raise aspirations and engage primary school students in considering higher education
  • Organising and hosting festivals to attract people from across the city, and working with organisations helping people access and prepare for HE in West Yorkshire

As we reported last year, Bradford topped the Social Mobility Index, a league table ranking universities on their ability to positively improve people’s chances in life.

“We are proud to be involved with the launch of this white paper, and that the University of Bradford has been identified as an exemplar,” said the institution’s VC, Professor Shirley Congdon, at yesterday’s launch.

“The various initiatives we have been recognised for really do change people’s lives, and that is a testament to the hard work of our staff. But there is still much work to be done, which is why we will build on this success to ensure our university can and does make a difference in people’s lives.”

From the archive: In 2019, we ran a comprehensive profile of Professor Shirley Congdon when was appointed University of Bradford VC

The work of universities such as Bradford is crucial to the success of the government’s much-mooted levelling up agenda, added Greening.

“Moving forward, there is a huge opportunity to develop the role that universities play as anchor institutions,” she said.

“Having worked hard on widening participation, universities have key insights that can be used more widely. There is no doubt in my mind that our universities should be at the centre of the UK’s levelling up plans.”

In April, the sector expressed concern after one of the government’s key levelling up plans was published.

Support for higher education was not mentioned in the prospectus of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, a central element of the agenda following the loss of EU investment in deprived areas of the UK.

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