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Graduate retention study to drive social equality
The Bridge Group

Moving away from home is often considered necessary to be socially mobile. What does this mean for students who don’t want to move away, and for graduates who decide to stay local after they’ve finished their studies?

To find out, the UPP Foundation has provided £23,000 of funding to the Bridge Group, a leading charity that delivers consultancy and research to promote social equality.

The project will investigate the experiences of graduates who choose to remain in the region following study. It will give particular attention to commuter students and their outcomes, considering that they are more likely to be from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

The Bridge Group will collaborate with four HEIs representing different aspects of the sector and geographical contexts, analysing national and institutional data and new data through interviews with students and graduates. It will build a new evidence base to underpin recommendations for the sector, re-framing how it thinks about and measures success in the context of social equality.

Nik Miller, Chief Executive of the Bridge Group, said: “The UPP Foundation is enabling us to explore robustly the value of locality, and of graduates who want to stay close to home. For social equality, it’s vital that we listen carefully to the voices of students and graduates who want to remain local, not least to ensure that the university sector can contribute meaningfully to the economic and cultural prosperity of our regions.”

Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive at the University of Sunderland, said: “I am delighted to support a project that will cover a neglected part of the social mobility story. Too often, that is about people leaving home for university and never returning. But a graduate who chooses to stay in the place they were born and brought up can improve their life-chances as significantly as someone who doesn’t, at the same as making a vital contribution in their own locality.”

Impact of Covid-19 – Publication of the final report will be delayed to either side of the new year, and this will include research which asks graduates how coronavirus is impacting their efforts to find employment.