Russell Group universities building social capital

12 March 2018

Russell Group universities are committed to ensuring students from all backgrounds are supported to access and succeed in higher education, and to achieve their post-study ambitions. Our universities aim to support all students right from the start of their courses through to graduation and beyond, helping them to access outstanding opportunities to learn, develop, and realise their full potential.


We recognise that students from disadvantaged and under-represented backgrounds can face particular challenges and pressures through their transition from school to university and in progressing to employment and further study. As well as investing significantly in widening access, our universities are supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds once they have made a successful application by:

  • supporting them in the transition to university with pre- and post-arrival strategies to help students acclimatise to university life and independent study
  • helping them to complete their courses successfully with scholarships and bursaries to support retention and interventions like mentoring and study skills support to improve degree attainment
  • assisting students in realising their post-study ambitions through the provision of internships and advice about career and further study opportunities, and through support to access study abroad and volunteering programmes to build social capital and employability skills.

In 2018-19, Russell Group members in England alone will invest £37 million in supporting success and progression for disadvantaged and under-represented students – with investment in this area more than trebling over the past five years.

We know this combination of support is effective: just 3.9% of disadvantaged students do not continue their course after one year at our universities, compared to 7.2% of students from the same backgrounds at other HEIs. However, we recognise there is more work to do and our universities will continue to provide a combination of academic, pastoral and financial support to help disadvantaged and under-represented students to flourish once at university and beyond.

Russell Group briefing on social capital

Related case studies

Media Enquiries
Policy Enquiries

Follow us on Twitter