Addressing policy challenges in student and graduate career development: Equality and Diversity

The new seminar series from AGCAS, addressing policy challenges in student and graduate career development. The series is aimed at university leadership, employers, professional bodies and other sector bodies.

The theme of the first seminar is Equality and Diversity.

Access and participation has long been a strategic priority for the higher education (HE) sector, and universities have made real strides in levelling access to the HE playing field. But student disadvantage does not end at graduation. Getting in does not always mean getting ahead, and this is an area that has traditionally been overlooked. Despite evidence to suggest that organisations are increasingly focussed on diversifying their graduate intake (ISE, 2019), graduates from non-traditional backgrounds still face barriers to successful progression and high-quality outcomes.

It is only by ensuring equality of opportunity in achieving graduate outcomes that we can tackle the social immobility and disadvantage facing our graduates. This is a challenge that university careers services are facing head-on. AGCAS research has shown that 77% of member services had developed targeted careers and employability initiatives for students with a disability or physical/mental health condition and over half had delivered such initiatives for widening participation students, including those from schools/areas of low HE participation, BME students and students from other disadvantaged backgrounds, such as care leavers and young carers (AGCAS, 2018). With increasingly sophisticated use of data, the way university careers services identify, target and support the employability of non-traditional students is becoming more nuanced and having greater impact; with many examples of successful initiatives showcased in our member-led Social Mobility Toolkit and recent issues of Phoenix, the AGCAS journal.

In a marketised climate, where destination metrics feed into league tables, universities cannot afford for any of their graduates to be left behind – and it is those from non-traditional backgrounds that are most at risk. Our collective mission as a sector should be to equalise access to all careers and organisations, and to help students develop the confidence and skills needed to unlock their career possibilities. Careers services are uniquely placed to deliver this mission by offering life-changing support to students, as well as influencing the perceptions and behaviours of employers.

This Addressing Policy Challenges seminar aims to move the social mobility and equality and diversity conversation on from access and participation (topics already widely discussed) to progression and outcomes from HE. We will use a research-led approach to analyse the intersectional nature of the obstacles facing non-traditional students in achieving positive graduate outcomes and celebrate some of the innovative initiatives that university careers services have developed to better understand students’ career readiness, target resources and provide more personalised support.

Careers services alone cannot resolve the issues that lead to social immobility and inequality, but by bringing together experts in graduate success, we can strengthen our collective voice in local and national policy making, to ensure we continue to progress towards a vision where all graduates are able to realise their potential.




The first seminar will be chaired by disability equality campaigner, Lord Shinkwin.

Confirmed keynote speakers



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