University Governance of WP and Social Mobility

Getting involved and getting strategic buy-in

Whatever the priorities of your institution regarding WP students and social mobility there will be groups of staff focused on the development and submission of reports and proposals to the Office for Students (in England), the Scottish Funding Council, the HE Funding Council for Wales and the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland. These provider submissions include data and notes on activity and proposals regarding not just fair access to HE programmes but also addressing gaps or inequality in progression and outcomes.

An increasingly proportion of HE Careers leaders are now involved in these groups and in discussion, but not all, despite the significantly increased focus on career outcomes in the Teaching Excellence Framework and in Access and Participation Plans (in England). If you are not involved we suggest that you question whether you should be. Not only will your input be directly relevant and valuable, getting involved in discussion at a strategic level will help you to secure a mandate for action and focused activity. Being more directly involved could lead to:

  • Establishing or getting Careers involvement in relevant committees:
    • Learning & Teaching
    • Equality & Diversity
    • Access and Participation
  • Creating a dedicated WP team within Careers
    • Not necessarily with new or dedicated resource
  • Development of a specific WP employability strategy or objectives
  • Establishing clear KPIs
  • Having or agreeing a university SMT ‘champion’ for WP and social mobility
  • New research activity to build your own institutional evidence base

Some examples:

“The university has a WP focus led from the top tier of senior management at the university.”

“The university has a WP employability strategy and has a KPI of closing the graduate outcomes gap between WP and non-WP students (using a low income household metric).”

“The university has established an Access and Participation Plan group (2019) but the Head of Careers Service is not included and activity still feels more focused on outreach and access to HE, rather than progression and outcomes.”

“The Head of Service sits on the Access and Participation Working Party and is involved in feeding into the development of the plans.”

“I’m looking forward to be able to work on the TEF submissions earlier in the process.”

Creating and nurturing internal networks

Many would recommend that Careers leaders should consider and develop the strength and extent of current and future relationships with:

  • Outreach and student recruitment teams
  • Access and Participation Planning groups, or equivalent
  • Student journey teams
  • Project teams – student journey / IT
  • BAME task groups
  • Equality and Diversity groups
  • Planning Office
  • Learning and Teaching committee members
  • Alumni office
  • Students’ Union diversity and welfare teams and Student Societies

It takes time and effort but developing and maintaining these relationships is viewed by many Heads of Service as key to making progress on both targeted and all-student provisions, and in bidding for any additional resources.