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University of Bradford praised in Westminster for its work on ‘Levelling Up’


Shirley Congdon and Paul Watson in London

The University of Bradford’s work on widening access to higher education was today praised in a new report launched at Westminster to highlight the work various organisations are doing to help with ‘Levelling Up’. 

The University Best Practice White Paper sets out just some of the actions and projects that are having a direct impact on students and communities. These include widening participation activities, collaboration with local businesses and case studies from students whose lives have been turned around by higher education.  

The report was produced by former Education Secretary Rt Hon Justine Greening’s Purpose Coalition - a group of purpose-led businesses, universities and public sector organisations, and follows the University of Bradford being awarded its second Levelling Up Award in as many years for its work on recruitment.

The University is also proud to be taking part in Universities UK’s #GettingResults campaign, which seeks to promote work done to level up the local community.

The report was launched at an event in Westminster - attended by University of Bradford Vice-Chancellor Professor Shirley Congdon and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning, Teaching & Student Experience Paul Watson - with speeches from Justine Greening, Munira Wilson, MP for Twickenham and the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Education, and Professor Steven West, Vice-Chancellor of UWE Bristol and President of Universities UK.  

The Rt Hon Justine Greening

Pictured above: the Rt Hon Justine Greening, during a visit to the University in November 2021

Justine Greening said: “Our University Best Practice White Paper is full of brilliant, practical examples of levelling up. Not only does it highlight opportunities being spread to those from under-represented backgrounds but also the wider impact that universities can have through research, procurement and many other things. It has never been a more important time to reap the wider benefits of the successful approaches contained in this paper, as the levelling up debate necessarily shifts onto practical solutions.  

“Moving forward there is a huge opportunity to develop the role that universities play as anchor institutions. Having worked hard on widening participation, universities have key insights that can be used more widely. There is no doubt in my mind that our universities should be at the centre of the UK’s levelling up plans.” 

Read the University Best Practice White Paper.

The University of Bradford is praised as an example of best practice, thanks to a number of schemes and initiatives. These include:-

  • Progression Scheme (also known as ‘contextualised admissions') which seeks to widen access to higher education by ensuring a range of factors outside the control of applicants do not adversely hinder access to higher education

  • A well run ‘widening participation’ programme which targets adult learners, care experienced students, estranged students, people from low participation neighbourhoods, refugees and asylum seekers, and white, working class males

  • The Bradford branch of the Children’s University, a national scheme to raise aspirations and engage primary school students in considering higher education

  • Running and hosting festivals to attract people from across the city, and for working with organisations such as Go Higher West Yorkshire

Rt Hon Justine Greening in round-table discussion

Pictured above: round-table discussion with Rt Hon Justine Greening and Prof Congdon

Professor Congdon said: “We are proud to be involved with the launch of this White Paper, and that the University of Bradford has been identified as an exemplar. The various initiatives we have been recognised for really do change people’s lives, and that is a testament to the hard work of our staff. But there is still much work to be done, which is why we will build on this success to ensure our university can and does make a difference in people’s lives.”

The University of Bradford was also recently ranked number 1 in England in the Social Mobility Index - a new league table ranking universities based on their ability to positively improve people’s chances in life.


The University of Bradford is taking part in a week of campaigning activity to highlight our role in levelling up, boosting economic growth and creating opportunities for everyone to live longer, more fulfilling lives.

As part of Universities UK’s Getting Results campaign, which promotes the role of universities in the economic and social recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic, a co-ordinated programme of political, media and digital activity will focus on the important difference universities can make to the UK Government’s levelling up agenda through their teaching, research, innovation, and community and business partnerships.

This follows new Higher Education Statistics Agency data showing that graduate start-ups created more than 10,000 new jobs in 2020/21 alone despite the onset of the pandemic. In total, 15,793 active graduate businesses are estimated to have created 46,723 jobs – up from 35,637 jobs in twelve months – as well as new products and services across the country.