What Do We Mean By Social Mobility?


Social mobility, higher education and the 21st Century

There is a strongly held narrative in the press and public discourse that social mobility and higher education (HE) is solely about getting a small number of students from non-traditional backgrounds into a very small number of elite institutions but this narrative is misguided.


Why this policy is misguided


The impact
The current narrative stifles potential by encouraging people to make decisions based on misinformation and prejudicial advice. Effective progression routes through to high level qualifications and continuing professional development are essential in order to tackle rising inequality and to ensure that people do not get trapped at the bottom of the employment market. Social mobility in our future, hourglass economy, relies on people getting comprehensive and impartial information about careers and higher education.


Our position
University Alliance believe passionately that more can be done to increase social mobility. This must start with a much broader look at the opportunities and transformational experiences offered by universities across the UK while keeping them accessible to all who can benefit.


Policy asks: Quick wins


Policy asks: Longer term


Case study – Sophie Cousens
Sophie, an AAA student, battled with her teachers to apply for a place on the world leading course of Marine Biology at Plymouth University. Plymouth has won prizes for its world-class marine and maritime research, teaching and training, and boasts excellent resources including its own Marine Diving Centre. Sophie said, “I had a bit of a battle on my hands…but it was absolutely the right course for me to do.”


For more information contact:

Daisy Hooper
Policy and Projects Manager


Further reading