Social Mobility Commission - State of the Nation 2016

16 November 2016

Commenting on the Social Mobility Commission’s State of the Nation report 2016 Director General Russell Group, Dr Wendy Piatt, said:

“We share the Commission’s commitment to social mobility and ensuring our doors are wide open to talented and able students from all backgrounds is very important to Russell Group universities. Young people from the most disadvantaged areas in 2015 were around 40 per cent more likely to enter a leading university than four years ago and more than a third of our students receive a bursary or scholarship.

“But we recognise there is still more to do and our universities are committed to investing a huge amount of time, effort and resources into improving access. Our universities will be investing more than £250 million next year in reaching out to those from disadvantaged backgrounds through bursaries, scholarships, fee waivers and outreach activities. But they cannot solve this problem alone. We agree with the Commission that there are still far too many children from disadvantaged backgrounds underachieving at school and receiving poor advice and guidance.

“The recommendations in the Commission’s report reflect many of the activities our universities are already engaged in such as providing high-quality careers and applications information, advice, and guidance. Our student guide Informed Choices provides advice on the best subject combinations for a wide range of Russell Group university courses and we have recently launched Advancing Access, an online resource which gives teachers all the information they need to help their pupils apply to a leading university.  

“It will take time, commitment, and sustained action from a range of agencies to raise pupils' aspirations, increase attainment and improve the advice and guidance offered."


Notes to Editors

  1. Department for Education destination data published in January showed that the number of students eligible for free school meals going to Russell Group universities has increased every year since 2010.
  1. In 2013, almost 13% of the students eligible for free school meals who went into higher education went to a Russell Group university, up from 7.5% in 2010. This is despite the Social Mobility commission’s finding that just 5% of those pupils eligible for Free School Meal gain 5 A Grades.
  1. According to HESA since 2009/10:
  • The number of young, full-time undergraduate students from low socio-economic backgrounds entering a Russell Group university has increased by 14%, from 12,655 to 14,415 in 2014/15
  • The number of young, full-time undergraduate students who attended state schools going to Russell Group universities each year has increased by 8.2% from 56,440 to 61,080 in 2014/15
  1. The 20 Russell Group universities in England alone will be investing £254 million in 2017/18 in scholarships, fee waivers, bursaries and outreach activities aimed at the most disadvantaged – with additional investments being made across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  1. The Progression to Russell Group universities’ conferences were held at the University of Cambridge on Monday 18 April and at the University of Liverpool on Tuesday 26 April. Building on the success of the conferences, materials and presentations have been developed into an online resource –
  1. Our guide Informed Choices, first published in 2011, includes advice on the best subject combinations for a wide range of university courses as well as advice on the best choices for students if they don't know what they want to study after school and need to keep their options open.
  1. The Russell Group report, Opening Doors - Understanding and overcoming the barriers to university access, and accompanying films examine the root causes of under-representation of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and give examples of what Russell Group universities are doing to help tackle the problem.  



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