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Tuesday 24 November 2020

University unveils action plan with former Education Secretary to level up opportunity gap

With a focus on Burnley UCLan demonstrates its continued commitment and long-standing expertise in addressing social mobility.

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has today unveiled a new action plan to increase access to higher education and career opportunities, in partnership with former Secretary of State for Education, Rt Hon Justine Greening.

Watch Justine launch the UCLan Action Plan.

With a focus on its work in Burnley, the plan shares how the University will open up opportunities for the organisations and local communities it serves.

The plan sets out UCLan’s ambitions to ensure that more people are able to access higher education, and the opportunities that it provides, whatever their background or circumstances.

UCLan is one of a pioneering group of UK businesses and universities aiming to set a new and higher standard of boosting social mobility in Britain.

UCLan signed the *Social Mobility Pledge in September 2020. The Social Mobility Pledge was co-founded by Justine Greening in 2018, after she left the Government, with entrepreneur David Harrison.

The launch of UCLan’s Opportunity Action Plan, is the culmination of months of work with the Social Mobility Pledge team, who identified UCLan as a pioneer in social mobility.

The new document highlights UCLan’s position as the largest provider of health and social care education in Lancashire and Cumbria. Thanks to its new health and social care facilities on its Burnley campus, the University is in a prime position to provide graduates for the jobs that will arise in its local community post-Covid-19.

UCLan has one of the largest Higher Education and Further Education collaborations in England with over 25 partners, helping strengthen non-standard access routes into its courses. It works especially hard with groups such as care leavers, people with disabilities, those from Pupil Referral Units and former members of the military services.

"The work that UCLan is pioneering in Burnley and beyond can provide a template for others to look at how to tackle inequality, fill crucial key worker vacancies in the NHS and other public services and encourage genuine diversity in the organisations that underpin this country"

Former Secretary of State for Education, Rt Hon Justine Greening

UCLan’s ambitions in the action plan include continuing widening access and participation in higher education and ensuring that those with talent have equal access to opportunities. The plan also highlights how the University will continue to develop its work across Lancashire, focussing on the public sector and particularly the NHS.

Justine Greening said: “There is no doubt that progressing the levelling up agenda is fundamental to Britain’s future and a far wider effort is needed to combat Britain’s weak social mobility. But many of those solutions will need to be locally tailored and owned if they are to succeed. The work that UCLan is pioneering in Burnley and beyond can provide a template for others to look at how to tackle inequality, fill crucial key worker vacancies in the NHS and other public services and encourage genuine diversity in the organisations that underpin this country.”

‘‘I hope many more universities will follow UCLan’s lead and consider how they can go further, faster to make Britain a high skilled, high knowledge economy.’’

Professor Graham Baldwin, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire, added: “We are really proud to be part of Justine Greening’s national campaign. Our action plan further demonstrates our continued commitment and long-standing expertise in addressing social mobility.

‘‘We are delighted to share our experience from many years of pioneering outreach programmes and widening participation initiatives among communities across the North West and beyond.

“At UCLan we have always prided ourselves on being an open and accessible institution for people of all ages and all backgrounds helping people to seize every opportunity to flourish in education, at work and for life.”

*More than 500 organisations representing over seven million people have signed the Social Mobility Pledge. This includes over 50 universities with more than two million students represented.