The Ups and Downs of Social Mobility (A Quick Guide for Newbies)

A couple of years ago I was prepping for a job interview and roped in a friend (who happened to be my old boss) to help me out. She works in the further education sector, so we’re not worlds apart on the job scene, but when she launched into a passionate speech about social mobility my brain immediately tuned in…partly out of panic and partly out of curiosity. Why was she so enthusiastic about something I knew so little about? Yes, it sounded vaguely familiar, but I didn’t really get what I could do about it.

So, for those who have perhaps heard the term but not quite connected the dots, here’s a quick crash course in social mobility, and why it matters.

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The Importance of Identity and Visibility In Outreach

When the topic of ‘visibility’ arises in outreach, it is usually to do with raising the profile of students from under-represented groups. Sometimes this manifests in a push for more diverse marketing campaigns, to represent the true (or aspirant) diversity of students at a given institution, or as an initiative within a university to recognise the presence and achievements of groups who fly under the radar.

However, when it comes to student-facing visibility, I believe it is just as important that applicants see diversity in the range of people creating, organising and delivering outreach, too. And not just from students. Read More

Evaluating Online Outreach During a Global Health Pandemic

It is fair to say that I did not expect to be writing a blog post under this title back in the early weeks and months of 2020, when the weather was terrible and we gleefully shared space and germs. But on reflection, the first part of the title ‘Evaluating online outreach’ should not be so surprising. The transposition of information and guidance for applicants to higher education from face to face settings – such as in schools, on campus or at events – to a virtual setting has been a possibility for a long time. Universities across the world have engaged in remote education practices for some time.  Yet, it has taken the second part of this title ‘a global health pandemic’ to really throw university outreach into the online landscape, and in the case of 2020, to fend for itself. This has forced widening participation, outreach and recruitment teams into new and innovative – and digital – ways of working, and as a consequence has demanded that the evaluations of those activities respond in step. Read More

Foundation (courses) for success?

Regardless of your background, access to prestigious Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) has traditionally been a relatively straight forward scenario: you meet the entry requirements, or you don’t. However, things are changing in recognition of the argument that achieving, let’s say, A-level grades BBB in the context of social or economic disadvantage and/or a significantly disrupted education is as good an indicator of academic potential as meeting entry requirements (usually somewhere in the AAB-AAA region) in the absence of disadvantage. So-called contextual offers attempt to look beyond A-level score as a ‘gold standard’ of educational promise and take a more holistic view of the applicant. Indeed, most HEIs already have some sort of contextual admissions process (Sundorph, Vasilev and Coiffait, 2017).  Read More

Centre for Social Mobility blog goes live!

Welcome to the University of Exeter’s blog for the Centre for Social Mobility.

This is a platform for academics, researchers, students and staff to share their thoughts, research insights and innovative ideas relating to widening participation and improving social mobility at the University of Exeter. We hope that this blog inspires, engages and encourages collaborative working to help improve the educational outcomes for students from under-represented backgrounds.

We hope you enjoy reading the blogs. If you are interested in contributing to the blog, please us.