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Social mobility ranking system puts Bradford top in England for second year running


Students celebrating

The University of Bradford has again been named the leading university in England for its impact on improving students’ social mobility.

The English Social Mobility Index, published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), measures and compares the impact universities have on people’s social mobility, particularly through graduate outcomes and how this improves life chances.

It challenges the focus on judging universities by the salaries of their graduates, arguing that this fails to consider individuals’ personal circumstances and how far they have travelled.

The index was launched last year and has now been further refined to map graduate outcomes against multiple deprivation data. This has helped to overcome the issue of some universities achieving a higher ranking because of graduates from less deprived backgrounds securing higher salaries, by identifying differences in outcomes between socioeconomic groups.

The University of Bradford continues to be ranked first in the country out of more than 100 universities, demonstrating the value the university adds to its students and the outcomes they achieve.

The Index challenges the often-made assumption that only particular kinds of universities make a substantial impact on social mobility, highlighting that, in the context of their individual missions, all types of institution – from research intensives to modern technical universities – can, and do, make a substantial contribution to social mobility.

The ranking cements Bradford’s leadership in this mission. In 2019/20, the University was named as University of the Year for Social Inclusion by The Times and Sunday Times. The University was also among the earlier signatories to the Rt Hon Justine Greening’s Social Mobility Pledge and has since been named an Opportunity Anchor in recognition of its pivotal role in transforming lives.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Shirley Congdon, said: “Enabling social mobility by expanding opportunity and enabling the fulfilment of potential is fundamental to our University strategy. To be recognised as the leading university in the country for the second year running really is testament to our commitment to supporting our students to achieve the best outcomes as graduates and to making a real difference to their life chances.

“Many of our students come from socially deprived backgrounds and previously might not have had opportunities to show their ability. With our support they can achieve excellent outcomes and this in turn has huge benefits for wider society and the economy.”

The Rt Hon Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Higher and Further Education, said: "We should do more to celebrate those universities which make a contribution to real social mobility – that means getting on, not just getting in. This is why I'm so delighted that this new league table is seeking to do exactly that, by highlighting the work that universities such as Bradford, Aston and Queen Mary do to transform lives."