The annual UK Social Mobility Awards (SOMOs) provide an opportunity to recognise organisations that are making strides and creating initiatives to advance social mobility within their own workforce or beyond their own walls.
The University of the Year award recognises the work Sheffield Hallam does to proactively promote social mobility by improving access to HE, delivering wraparound support services for current students who require extra help to complete their studies, and providing leadership as an anchor institution in the region.
In addition to educating more students from underrepresented backgrounds than any other UK university for five consecutive years, Sheffield Hallam leads South Yorkshire Futures (SYF), the biggest university social mobility programme in the country, and is host of the national Civic University Network. The Network enhances the ways in which universities maximise their local impact, including improving education for school pupils and adult learners.
Around 65 per cent of Sheffield Hallam’s 30,000 students carry one or more of the ‘widening participation markers’, such as being from a disadvantaged or underrepresented background or a vulnerable group. Ninety-seven per cent of Hallam students are from state schools and colleges, and over half are the first in their family to attend university.
The University’s widening participation team works with 1,100 local educational settings and engages more than 60,000 young people every year to talk about the benefits of HE, targeting specific postcodes and groups considered disadvantaged or underrepresented. It is also co-host of HeppSY – a Uni Connect programme funded by the Office for Students – to provide impartial higher education advice to learners from vulnerable groups.
Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Sheffield Hallam’s mission is to transform lives and I am absolutely delighted our efforts have been recognised by the UK Social Mobility Awards.
“Sheffield Hallam University is proudly a university of its place - we recognise our responsibility to support our local communities through all that we do.
“From our outstanding record on improving access to higher education to people from all backgrounds, to our ground-breaking educational programme South Yorkshire Futures, we are supporting regional social mobility through our actions and leadership.”
Tunde Banjoko OBE, Founder of The UK Social Mobility Awards, said: “We are delighted that the UK Social Mobility Awards shows that there continues to be positive activity being conducted across the country, as corporate Britain comes together to drive forward social mobility.
“However, as much as has been done, we still have significant work to do, as when it comes to social mobility, there is no limit to better. I’d like to congratulate Sheffield Hallam University for winning ‘University of the Year’, for the outstanding work they are doing in progressing the movement.”
South Yorkshire Futures was developed in response to the region’s attainment gap and relatively high levels of deprivation, with data indicating that young people in South Yorkshire are less likely to achieve good GCSEs and progress to HE than their peers across the country. SYF projects include:
- The launch of the first university-led Early Years and Community Research Centre, offering new nursery places to local children and supporting improvements in Early Years practice in a deprived area of Sheffield,
- A school governor project connecting Hallam volunteers and business partners to schools and colleges in disadvantaged areas with governor vacancies,
- Expansion of the Children’s University across South Yorkshire, resulting in an additional two months of progress in reading and maths for children that participate.