“Education is the key to opportunity in our society, and the equality of educational opportunity must be the birthright of every citizen.”– Lyndon B Johnson
Recent government policy has taken a focus on the idea of “levelling up”, highlighting the need for the UK to push forwards in its role as a leading developed country. But what is it that needs to be done to make this a reality?
Everyone has a role to play in levelling up
The concept of raising everyone up is not new, and it is clear that education and access to it, especially for those who have barriers to entry, are essential.
The levelling up agenda is committed to “supporting educational outcomes”. With the devolved approach a key facet of the current political rhetoric, there is a sense that making sure that the best education is accessible to everyone who has the talent to take advantage of it is the responsibility of all members of our communities. That means education providers, local communities, businesses, government and individuals all working together to provide the most holistic, well-rounded education to their young people.
University efforts and partnerships
Lots of universities are of course already making enormous strides in how they are fostering their development. Manchester Metropolitan University is a case in point. They have won multiple awards, including the Diverse Company Award for Education at The Excellence in Diversity Awards and The Sunday Times University of the Year for Student Retention.
This is, in part, following the success of their First Generation Scholarship Programme, which supports young people who are the first in their family to go to university. They not only support students getting into university from challenging backgrounds, but through university and into their careers as well. Moreover, some scholarships are funded in partnership with industry leaders like Formula 1 and Sony.
The University of East London, The University of Aberdeen, Royal Holloway and the University of London have also been commended for their efforts. Earlier this year we also discussed a range of scholarships available at different universities that have started the process of helping individuals to access top institutions.
Levelling up and the long-term
Of course, the long-term success of initiatives like the First Generation Scholarship Programme are yet to be seen. They have just had their first wave of graduates head out into the working world. What we know is that if we really want to “level up”, support is not a one-stop-shop. It’s about making students aware of opportunities, helping you prepare for applications, mental and emotional as well as financial support throughout university, and guidance for the transition into the working world afterwards.
Progress is crucial – and education is key.