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Pioneering initiatives helping underrepresented groups succeed in higher education highlighted as Kingston University shortlisted for UK Social Mobility Awards

Posted Tuesday 3 September 2019

Pioneering initiatives helping underrepresented groups succeed in higher education highlighted as Kingston University shortlisted for UK Social Mobility Awards

Kingston University has been shortlisted for the UK Social Mobility Awards 2019, recognising its sector-leading approach to championing fair access and inclusivity in higher education.

This year's awards attracted an array of entries from businesses, charities and the public sector, with Kingston one of an elite group of six institutions shortlisted in the newly-created University of the Year category.

The University's nomination highlighted a range of projects and initiatives that engage under-represented groups across the educational lifecycle - from primary school through to graduation - and which involve staff from across the University working together to support students to make the most of the opportunities higher education has to offer.

The University's collaboration with schools, colleges, charities and other education providers was a key feature of the nomination. Its comprehensive outreach programme provides impartial information and advice to enable learners of all ages and backgrounds to consider higher education for their future.

The scheme includes subject specific elements delivered in collaboration with academic staff, such as the Lab in a Lorry programme, which offers fun, hands-on and interactive taster sessions to school children in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects through the use of a mobile science laboratory.

The nomination included the University's induction programme, Head Start, which prepares students from underrepresented groups for the transition to higher education. The programme consists of workshops designed to familiarise students with campus life and provide information about the support services available before they enrol - as well as providing an opportunity to make friends before they start.

The exemplary KU Cares scheme was also highlighted in the nomination. The scheme, which has been praised by Government Ministers, provides support for care leavers, young independent students and young adult carers - including financial assistance, access to year-round accommodation and work placement opportunities, as well as a dedicated team to support students throughout their time at University and beyond.

The University's award-winning Inclusive Curriculum Framework ensures students see themselves, their experience and backgrounds, reflected in the curriculum and was referenced in the nomination as a measure of academic quality. Staff across the faculties have used the framework and robust data to identify and address differences in progression and attainment which has resulted in huge strides in reducing the BAME attainment gap.

Also highlighted was the University's commitment to ensuring graduates are sought after by working with employers, while preparing students for their future careers both within and alongside the curriculum.

The University's Head of Access, Participation and Inclusion Jenni Woods said Kingston's place among the finalists in the new category of University of the Year was well deserved. "It reflects our deep and enduring commitment to fair access in higher education and our ongoing efforts to ensure all students, regardless of their background, are able to fulfil their academic potential and achieve their personal and career ambitions," she said.

"This achievement is down to the hard work of academic and professional services staff at all levels across the University, and our shared commitment to delivering equal opportunities and outcomes for our diverse student body," she added.

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore commended Kingston University for its sector-leading work on social mobility, diversity and reducing the BME attainment gap during a visit to the University's Penrhyn Road campus earlier this year.

The University was named University of the Year in the prestigious NEON awards in both 2016 and 2017 and Ms Woods was made an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2017 for her leading role in widening access to higher education.

The winners of the UK Social Mobility Awards 2019, which are held in association with global technology and business services firm Capita, will be announced at a gala on 10 October.

Categories: On campus, Staff, Students

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