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About the Commission

Why the UPP Foundation established the Commission

For over a year, universities have worked against the odds to keep students on track during the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s been gruelling, but also, often, inspiring, with deep collaboration and innovation in evidence across the sector. But over the last few months it has become increasingly clear that while there is concerted government support for schools and children, universities are expected to do this largely themselves.

We don’t comment on whether that’s the right or wrong approach. And given the autonomous nature of the sector, government will (rightly) be less directly involved in shaping the university student experience. Nevertheless, the UPP Foundation felt there was a gap in bringing together insights, ideas and suggestions from across the entire higher education sector to help students secure their successful futures – and to help universities support each other as well.

The Commission was conceived following a conversation with our partners Wonkhe to address this perceived gap, and since then we have been putting in place the infrastructure for the Commission. We’d like to place on record our huge thanks to the partners – GTI, Shakespeare Martineau and Wonkhe – who have helped get this off the ground, Public First for their servicing of the Commission, all of our Commissioners who are taking time out of their busy schedules to provide their expertise and the Commission’s Chair, Mary Curnock Cook for proving the Commission’s leadership.

The UPP Foundation is a charity which tackles the biggest issues in the higher education sector through funding innivative pilot projects, and collaborative thought leadership.

Meet the commissioners

The Commission has brought together a group from across the higher education sector, students and students’ unions, experts from secondary education, graduate employment and representatives from the charity and voluntary sector. The Commission is led by former Chief Executive of UCAS, Mary Curnock Cook CBE.

How it works

The UPP Foundation Student Futures Commission will seek to discover approaches that will help get students’ success back on track from September 2021.

Whilst there is no formal time period under consideration by the Commission, it is expected that the focus will be on events in the short term (which is defined here as actions for the 2021-2022 academic year), and into the medium term (which is defined here as actions principally acting over the next 4-5 academic years). 

We’ll be gathering evidence from across the sector on three main themes: 

  • Teaching and learning
  • Student experience and wellbeing
  • Employability

The full terms of reference for the commission can be read here 

The Commission will be publishing its findings on an iterative basis throughout the Summer, including preliminary findings, written and oral evidence sessions, and blog posts from our Commissioners. As part of this Commission we want to begin to share over the summer practical examples and recommendations on how universities are and should be preparing for the return of all students to campus in the Autumn. We also hope to look longer term at some of the key challenges facing the sector now and into the future, concluding with a final report by December 2021. 

We have launched a written call for evidence, which you can answer as much or as little of as you best see fit. We will also be hosting a number of public oral evidence sessions over the next few months.  We also want to hear from anyone who would like to contribute more informally to our work. You can contact the Commission at anytime at


Get involved

We welcome responses from higher education institutions, organisations working in the higher education sector as well as students, student bodies and other stakeholders.  Given the breadth of the challenge and opportunity, we welcome different organisations approaching the Commission from their particular perspective. 

  • Contribute to our written call for evidence. We’re keen to hear from voices across the sector – and you only need to contribute to the sections or questions which are most relevant to you or your organisation
  • Sign up to the UPP Foundation newsletter for regular updates on how the Commission is progressing
  • Suggest questions, topics or speakers for our three oral evidence sessions
  • Work with us: we welcome approaches from universities or organisations with an interest in the work of the commission, and would be happy to discuss ways in which you might be able support our work. This might include developing a joint event or session, a meeting with our Commissioners, or inviting us to speak at a forthcoming event you are planning. You can contact the Commission at

Our partners

Group GTI

A platform which supports students with self-discovery, career guidance, skills and finding roles. Helping employers reach and hire. Enabling universities to deliver world-class careers and student services. GTI was founded by its Chairmain Mark Blythe

Shakespeare Martineau

full service law firm, which provides legal services to businesses, organisations, government departments, families and people throughout life and in business. Shakespeare Martineau has a specialist education practice, which is led by Smita Jamdar.


The home of the higher education debate since it was founded by Mark Leach. Wonkhe will assist in convening conversations in the sector, and in the profile of its work in the sector and in policymaking.

News Events

News | 14.02.22

A Student Futures Manifesto

News | 31.01.22

International Student Futures Report

News | 22.11.21

Rebuilding diverse student communities is at the top of vice chancellors’ post-Covid agenda

News | 02.11.21

Building Back Better in Higher Education

News | 26.10.21

Improving student confidence in graduate employment

News | 22.10.21

A renewed focus on employability: Reflections on our third oral evidence session

News | 06.09.21

Interim Report: Turbocharging the Future

News | 17.08.21

Let’s not forget the lessons learnt from the past 18 months

08 Oct 2021


UPP Foundation Third Oral Evidence Session

09 Jul 2021


UPP Foundation Second Oral Evidence Session

29 Jun 2021


Student Unions’ Evidence Session

18 Jun 2021


UPP Foundation First Oral Evidence Session

17 Jun 2021


The Brilliant Club: How can we facilitate the student transition to University post-covid?

25 May 2021


Student Futures Commission Launch