Posted Thursday 10 October 2019
Kingston University has been applauded for its sector-leading approach to championing fair access and inclusivity in higher education at the UK Social Mobility Awards 2019. Kingston was one of an elite group of six institutions vying for top honours in the newly created University of the Year category at this year's awards, which attracted an array of entries from businesses, charities and across the public sector.
Former Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening, who won the award for outstanding contribution, cited Kingston University as an example of best practice during a glittering gala ceremony.
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 its nomination. Its comprehensive outreach programme provides impartial information and advice to encourage 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 school children fun, hands-on and interactive taster sessions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through a mobile laboratory.
The nomination also included the University's induction programme, Head Start, which prepares students from underrepresented groups for the move to higher education. It consists of workshops designed to familiarise students with campus life and provide information about the support services available before they enrol, as well as giving them an opportunity to make friends before they start.
The University's acclaimed KU Cares scheme was another nomination highlight. Widely praised by Government Ministers, it 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 on campus 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 faculties use the framework, which is underpinned by robust data, to identify and address differences in progression and attainment. This approach has resulted in the University making huge strides in reducing the BAME attainment gap.
The University's commitment to producing graduates sought after by employers, through programmes preparing students for their future careers both within and alongside the curriculum, was also recognised in the nomination.
Head of Access, Participation and Inclusion Jenni Woods said making it through to the finals in the new category of University of the Year was a testament to the University's deep and enduring commitment to fair access in higher education. "The University has a longstanding tradition of ensuring all its 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, professional and support services staff right across the University and reflects our shared commitment to delivering equal opportunities and outcomes for our diverse student body," she added.
Universities Minister Chris Skidmore has commended Kingston University for its sector-leading work on social mobility, diversity and reducing the BME attainment gap. The University was also named University of the Year in the prestigious NEON awards in both 2016 and 2017 and Ms Woods was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2017 in recognition of her leading role in widening access to higher education.
The UK Social Mobility Awards 2019 were run in association with global technology and business services firm Capita.