This blog is part of the series featuring ideas contained in the new HEPI-Brightside report, Reaching the parts of society universities have missed: A manifesto for the new Director for Fair Access and Participation. It showcases the idea from Justin Madders MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Social Mobility.
The Class Ceiling report by the Social Mobility APPG on access to the leading professions advocates increasing the use of contextual recruitment, and the Office for Students should encourage exactly the same in higher education.
While universities have made much more progress towards this than the elite professions, the exact mechanisms of the recruitment process can too often be a mystery to the young people approaching it. This is particularly prevalent in those from schools without a history of sending pupils to top universities.
In relation to this, good careers advice can be transformative for young people and can drive them towards educational opportunities that they have never considered, but it is far too variable. There is a place for much greater collaboration between schools, universities and employers in spreading a ‘what works’ approach, so that as many people as possible find the options that suit them best.
This should be part of a far more strategic approach to social mobility, led by government, requiring cross-sector leadership and real collaboration. While there are excellent examples of good practice, too often this work is carried out in isolation.