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.
Sheffield Hallam has been shortlisted for the University of the Year award for its work 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.
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 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 groundbreaking educational programme South Yorkshire Futures, we are supporting regional social mobility through our actions and leadership.
“Sheffield Hallam’s mission is to transform lives and I am delighted our efforts have been recognised by the UK Social Mobility Awards.”
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
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.
Sir Ken Olisa OBE, SOMOs judge and the HM Lord Lieutenant of London, said: “The war against Covid-19 has shown just how strong our nation is when we pull together. It has also shown how ‘we’ means people from every walk of life, heritage and ability. There can be no greater proof of the power of social mobility. Now that its value is beyond dispute ‘we’ must pull out all of the stops to make social mobility a reality – even in peacetime.”
The SOMOs were the first national awards dedicated to social mobility, recognising the forward-thinking organisations that are working to progress social mobility. Organised by social justice charity, Making The Leap, this year’s awards shortlist represents those who have best demonstrated the efficacy of their social mobility initiatives.
The winners will be determined by an independent judging panel, made up of leading figures from business, charity and the public sector, and chaired by Sir Ken Olisa OBE. They will be announced at the awards gala on 14th October 2021.