The only way is up #2

Universities are seen as key drivers of social mobility; improving access to opportunity and moving people up the economic ladder. But is that the case for all universities? This new report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and The Sutton Trust might have the answer.

English universities ranked on their contributions to social mobility – and the least selective post-1992 universities come out on topInstitute for Fiscal Studies
Today, in by far the most comprehensive exercise of this nature to have happened in the UK, the Institute for Fiscal Studies is publishing a new report, in partnership with the Sutton Trust, that ranks universities in terms of their contributions to social mobility. It looks both at the share of students from low-income backgrounds at the university, and whether those students have moved up to the top of the income ladder. Specifically, for each university it calculates a “mobility rate”, which shows the proportion of students at the university who were FSM eligible and are amongst the top 20% of earners at age 30.

Some of the key findings:

The average mobility rate across all universities based on those who entered in the mid-2000s is 1.3%. This means just over one in every 100 graduates was eligible for FSM when they were at school and is in the top 20% of earnings at age 30. This compares to the 4.4 students in every 100 graduates we would get if there were equal access to university for all income groups and undergraduates from all income backgrounds had the same chance of making it into the top 20%.

Many of the most selective and prestigious universities do not do well on this ranking. While students from low-income families who go to Russell Group institutions do very well in the labour market, these universities admit very few FSM students, leading to an average mobility rate of just 1%.

Overall, the least selective post-1992 institutions do best, often combining relatively high access rates of FSM students (more than one in every ten students) with slightly below average rates of reaching the top 20%. More selective post-1992 have the lowest mobility rates. They take in fewer FSM students than pre-1992 universities, but have far worse labour market outcomes. […]

Bradford, Aston, Newman University (Birmingham), Birmingham City and Liverpool John Moores are the highest mobility institutions which are not based in or around London.

You can explore the data for yourself with this interactive chart from the Sutton Trust.

Universities and social mobility: Data explorerSutton Trust
These interactive charts use data from our ‘Universities and Social Mobility’ report with the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Explore how social mobility varies by university, subject and individual courses.

The full report and background data is available on the IFS website as well as on GOV.UK.

Which university degrees are best for intergenerational mobility?Institute for Fiscal Studies
Higher education is often seen as a crucial vehicle for improving intergenerational mobility. Previous research in the UK has generally looked in isolation at access to, or outcomes from, university for students coming from low-income backgrounds. Here, we put these components together to investigate the extent to which individual universities, subjects and courses promote intergenerational mobility.

The best university degrees for intergenerational mobilityGOV.UK
Analysis of the impact of different undergraduate degrees on the social mobility of graduates.

Author: Terry Madeley

Works with student data and enjoys reading about art, data, education and technology.

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