CentreForum report on social mobility

01 May 2014

Commenting on the CentreForum report Higher Education as a Tool of Social Mobility, Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group of Universities, said:

“We reject the findings and methodology of this report. It makes very strange assumptions about social mobility. For example, it puts a lower value on graduates who decide to carry on their studies – thereby suggesting that doing a masters or getting a PhD does not represent a step up the social ladder.

“It fails, too, to recognise that those students from more disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to complete their degree at a Russell Group university than they are at other institutions.

“Finally, it takes only a snapshot of graduates’ jobs six months after they’ve left university. What graduates are doing six months after graduation is not a very good indicator of how much upward mobility they will achieve over a lifetime. In fact, graduates from Russell Group universities go on to earn more than other graduates, are more likely to be in high-skilled jobs and earn 24% more per hour than their peers from other universities.

“Russell Group universities are working hard to ensure every student with the qualifications, potential and determination to succeed has the opportunity to gain a place at a leading university, whatever their background. They are also investing in high quality education and excellent facilities. Employers know the quality of students from our universities is high, that is why nine out of the top ten universities most-often targeted by Britain’s top graduate employers are Russell Group universities.”

Notes to Editors

  1. A Government-commissioned study has shown male graduates from Russell Group universities earn 16% more over the course of their lifetime than male graduates from newer universities. Female Russell Group graduates earn 9% more over the course of their lifetime than female graduates from newer universities. Source
  2. All the Russell Group universities are included in the UCAS-defined list of higher tariff institutions. The percentage of students from disadvantaged backgrounds being admitted to higher tariff universities has gone up by 11% and the percentage eligible for Free School Meals being admitted to higher tariff universities has gone up by 22%. There have also been increases in the percentages of students being admitted from all minority ethnic backgrounds. Source
  3. In 2009, only 232 students who had been on free school meals (FSM) achieved 3As at A-level or the equivalent.  This was 4.1% of the total number of FSM students taking A-levels, and less than an estimated 0.3% of all those who had received free school meals when aged 15. At 16 only 36.8% of FSM pupils achieve a good GCSE in Maths and English (grades A*-C). Source

Policy area

Related case studies

Media Enquiries
Policy Enquiries

Follow us on Twitter