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Our Themes

"The UPP Foundation is focusing its activity on four themes that are crucial to students, graduates and universities"

– Jon Wakeford, Chair of the Trustee Board, UPP Foundation, and Corporate Affairs Director, UPP

Access & Retention, The Civic University, Employability, Global Citizens

As higher education has expanded, the burden of paying for a degree has shifted towards the individual. This presents challenges in maintaining the ‘University for the Public Good’, as well as ensuring there is greater equity in going to, succeeding at and benefiting from the university experience. Our themes are aimed at helping the sector overcome these challenges so that together we enrich communities and transform lives within higher education.

Access & Retention

Everyone with the potential and ambition to go to and succeed at university should have the ability to do so, regardless of background, family income or disability. Yet there are still too many barriers to access for underrepresented groups and too many challenges to overcome once there for students who face problems, such as health issues or financial difficulties.

The UPP Foundation supports projects that raise aspiration and wherewithal amongst students from disadvantaged and low-participating backgrounds and support schemes that mitigate against challenges that prevent students from completing their studies. Our policy platform will host articles and papers from experts who will discuss best approaches for the higher education sector and ways policy could better support access and retention to university.

The Civic University

Universities enrich our cities, towns and regions through community access to lifelong education programmes, music culture and the arts, sporting facilities and public engagement events. This strengthens the place they are part of and helps universities become the civic anchor of their communities.

The UPP Foundation supports projects that help foster partnership and collaboration between universities and their local communities. Its policy platform will focus on ways in which universities and their communities can build mutually beneficial relationships for the public good.

Civic University Commission

The UPP Civic University Commission is a major new independent inquiry into the future of the civic university: how can universities most successfully serve their place in the 21st century?


Employment is vital for economic and social wellbeing, so it is of no surprise that most students who enter higher education do so in the hope of securing fulfilling employment. Graduates fair better than non-graduates in the jobs market but employers continue to complain that students and young people more widely do not have the skills to succeed in the workplace.

The UPP Foundation supports innovative projects that enhance young peoples’ social capital and skills development that are so important in helping them become employable. Our policy platform discusses the best approaches for employability and ways in which universities and business collaborate effectively.

Global Citizens

Technological innovation has rapidly increased the interconnected and interdependent nature of our world. To thrive in the 21st Century we need to understand and preserve cultural diversity, as well as embrace our commonly shared values of pluralism, equality and tolerance. Universities are at the forefront of advancing the concept of global citizenship through their international activities such as student exchange schemes and trans-national education programmes.

The UPP Foundation supports projects within the higher education sector that promote global citizenship. The policy platform discusses the challenges and opportunities that emerge from globalisation for universities, students and graduates alike.