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New white paper highlights best practice in creating opportunities to access higher education

6th October 2022

Northumbria University is featured in a new white paper which has been launched to raise awareness and share best practice of the wide-ranging roles that universities play as drivers of social mobility and opportunity.

The University Best Practice White Paper sets out just some of the actions and projects that are having a direct impact on students and communities. These include widening participation activities, collaboration with local businesses and case studies from students whose lives have been turned around by higher education.

Driven by the Levelling Up Universities Coalition (LUUC) campaign, a network of policy makers, business leaders and more than 20 universities from across the UK including Northumbria, the white paper is backed by former Education Secretary Rt Hon Justine Greening, chair of the Purpose Coalition, a group of the UK's most innovative purpose-led leaders and organisations.

Daniel Monnery, Director of Strategic Planning at Northumbria University said: “We are proud to be involved with this white paper, and that our modern, research intensive University has been commended as an exemplar in driving social mobility in the North East. We know there is more to do and we have ambitious plans to ensure our University grows its impact in addressing some of the inequalities in our region and in making a difference in people’s lives.”

Watch a video of the University Best Practice launch event at the House of Commons.


The report commends Northumbria’s commitment to social mobility and highlights some of the work that the University does to address and support people to overcome socio-economic disadvantage in the North-East and beyond. It spotlights the NU Entry scheme which enables a fair and transparent admissions process, engaging with schools nation-wide. In addition, the paper describes how the University’s research supports and drives economic growth in the region, with work aligning to regional priorities such as climate change, energy futures, health, social care and life sciences.

“This white paper basically looks at what a range of very different universities are doing on the ground to drive levelling up. Not just the more usual stuff on access and outreach, but a whole range of other things they do around how they help very different students, with very different challenges to thrive, learn and succeed when they get to university, and what they’re doing to help them connect up with a wide range of careers,” explained Ms Greening.

“But also, crucially, what these universities do as anchor institutions, as big employers, and big organisations in their own regions. What they’re doing to provide the skills that their local and regional economies need, and their NHS.”

Caption: Justine Greening with Northumbria University Economic Development Manager, Dr Sue Graham, at the launch event for the University Best Practice White Paper in London.The launch of the white paper comes after Northumbria University worked with the Purpose Coalition in May to launch a Social Mobility Impact Report, demonstrating initiatives and programmes that the university is undertaking to spread opportunity.

Northumbria was also one of the universities recognised as playing a leading role in driving social mobility at the Levelling Up Universities Awards 2022.

Former Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor Andrew Wathey, received a Levelling Up Spotlight Award for his leadership within the higher education sector. The University as a whole was recognised with an award for Extending Enterprise for its work in supporting students and graduates to become more entrepreneurial and to set up their own businesses.

Discover more here about the University Best Practice White Paper.

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