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Social mobility ranking success for Bradford


University of Bradford campus

University of Bradford recognised for improving social mobility

The University of Bradford has been ranked 13th in the country and best outside London for improving people’s social mobility in a new study.

The study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and Sutton Trust, described as the most “comprehensive exercise of this nature to have happened in the UK”, combines data on the number of university entrants in England who were eligible for free school meals with figures on graduate earnings, specifically looking at students who were among the top 20% of earners by the time they reached 30.

This, then, creates a 'mobility rate' for each university. The IFS/Sutton Trust study also establishes a mobility rate benchmark percentage score of 4.4, which assumes students from all economic backgrounds have equal access to university, and all graduates have the same chance of reaching the top 20 per cent of earners.

While Bradford was ranked 13th in the overall table, it came second after its score was adjusted to take account of cost-of-living differences across the country, as noted by Times Higher Education.

Improving outcomes

Academic Registrar Nikki Pierce said: “Social mobility is a key focus for the University of Bradford, where our vision is a world of inclusion and equality of opportunity, where people want to and can make a difference. Not only do we work to ensure that background and financial situation is never a barrier to students joining us, we put significant focus on ensuring that students succeed, achieving good degrees, and enhancing their chances of getting a great job.

“It is fantastic to see this recognised with our university being the best university outside London in this IFS study. As great as it is to do well in this league table, what we are most proud of is the difference we are making to students' lives.”

The IFS report found: “At the least selective institutions, individuals from all socioeconomic backgrounds are broadly evenly represented, but high-status and selective institutions are dominated by those from the most affluent backgrounds.”

It goes on: “This means that the privately educated are around 50 times more likely than the poorest students to attend a ‘most selective Russell Group institution. These numbers are even starker when just looking at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge: privately educated students are nearly 100 times more likely to go to Oxford or Cambridge than pupils who were on free school meals.”


Top 10 universities for mobility (after adjusting for cost of living)

Queen Mary University of London 4.4%

University of Bradford 4.0%

St George’s, University of London 3.7%

Aston University 3.6%

City, University of London 3.4%

University of Westminster 3.1%

Brunel University London 2.7%

University of Greenwich 2.6%

Kingston University 2.4%

Newman University 2.4%

Liverpool John Moores University 2.3%


Improving lives

Earlier this year, the English Social Mobility Index ranked Bradford #1 in England for its impact on improving students’ social mobility. Bradford was also named University of the Year for Social Inclusion 2019/20 by The Times and Sunday Times and is one of only 17 institutions in the country to be recognised for its support of students who have been in the care system.

In July, the University received one of the first ever Levelling Up awards. The University was singled out for its commitment to ensuring financial and food worries would not adversely impact students. Just over 50 per cent of its 9,000-plus students come from financially deprived backgrounds.