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Nottingham Trent University is first UK higher education institution to sign Social Mobility Pledge

Nottingham Trent University (NTU) has demonstrated its commitment to furthering social mobility through education by becoming the first UK higher education institution to sign the Social Mobility Pledge.

Justine Greening and Eunice Simmons
Justine Greening visit to NTU

Nottingham Trent University (NTU) has demonstrated its commitment to furthering social mobility through education by becoming the first UK higher education institution to sign the Social Mobility Pledge.

The Pledge was launched in March 2018 by former Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Justine Greening MP and UK financial technology entrepreneur David Harrison, founder of the Harrison Centre for Social Mobility. It sees companies and institutions commit to working with local schools and colleges, offer work placements and apprenticeships and adopt open recruitment policies.

The occasion was marked by a visit by Justine Greening MP to NTU today, to see first-hand social mobility in action and to meet some students whose lives have been transformed as a result of studying at the University.

NTU is at the forefront of social mobility. Its outreach team raises achievement as well as aspiration amongst school pupils in the least advantaged communities in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

In 2016, NTU admitted 13% of students from disadvantaged neighbourhoods compared with 11% for all England universities. NTU recruited the 6th highest number of these disadvantaged students of all UK universities.

In addition, 56% of students from disadvantaged backgrounds graduating in 2014 progressed to further study or professional employment, compared with 67% of graduates from non-disadvantaged backgrounds. By 2017, this gap had narrowed to just one percentage point, with as many as 80% of graduates from disadvantaged neighbourhoods progressing to further study or professional occupations.

Supporting students right through their time at university, provisional data for 2018 shows that over 70% of NTU students from disadvantaged widening participation (WP)* backgrounds achieved a 2:1 or First Class compared with 61% of the 2013 graduating cohort.

Professor Eunice Simmons, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Nottingham Trent University said: “Universities play an important role when it comes to improving the life chances of young people, and it’s a challenge which, to date, few universities have accepted and risen to.

“NTU understands its role and responsibility supporting students and helping them succeed in higher education regardless of background. Our initiatives demonstrate social mobility in action, and we’re delighted to be paving the way by being the first educational institution to sign the Social Mobility Pledge. We hope that more will follow suit.”

Justine Greening MP said: “The Social Mobility Pledge is about making a practical difference to employment opportunities by making sure employers can focus on talents and competence over connections. And there is a clear link between what we are doing and how forward-thinking universities see their own role.

“I’m very grateful to Professor Simmons and all the staff at Nottingham Trent University. They are committed to making a real difference to social mobility in Britain and I hope other higher education institutions will follow.”

A number of the UK’s major employers, including John Lewis, Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Vodafone, ITV and True Potential have already signed up to the Social Mobility Pledge.

  • Notes for editors

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    *Widening participation is a collective term used to describe disadvantaged groups underrepresented in higher education. Some of the main indicators include Participation of Local Area (POLAR), Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD), ACORN demographics and household income data.

    For more details on the pledge visit

    The Social Mobility Pledge is a commitment from businesses large and small across Britain to become a Social Mobility Pledge accredited employer taking the three steps below:

    1) Partnering directly with schools or colleges to provide coaching through quality careers advice, enrichment experience and/or mentoring to people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances. Businesses can work through the many social mobility charities and organisations, such as Speakers for Schools, Inspiring the Future, the Princes Trust, the Careers and Enterprise Company, that are already there to help businesses and employers do more on the ground.

    2) Access - providing structured work experience and/or apprenticeship opportunities to people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances

    3) Recruitment - adopting open employee recruitment practices which promote a level playing field for people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances, such as name blind recruitment or contextual recruitment.

    Business and employers can sign up today to be a Social Mobility employer at

Published on 12 October 2018
  • Category: Press office