A university initiative to improve social mobility in the area has attracted national praise.
Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) is shortlisted for the University of the Year prize at the prestigious UK Social Mobility Awards, in recognition of its role in advancing social mobility in Peterborough and the wider region.
The UK Social Mobility Awards are organised by the charity Making the Leap. In the 2023 University of the Year category, ARU is shortlisted alongside University of Southampton, UWE Bristol, Lancaster University, University of Warwick, and University of Exeter.
Created in partnership with Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) and Peterborough City Council (PCC), ARU Peterborough is specifically designed to meet the needs of a city which has been a long-term Higher Education ‘cold spot’, where only 32% of the population have degree level qualifications, compared to a national average of 43%.
ARU Peterborough opened its doors to its first students in September 2022 and, by offering a broad range of courses co-created with more than 170 employers, it aims to address low participation in Higher Education, boost the regional economy, and improve people’s access to opportunity.
Professor Ross Renton, Principal of ARU Peterborough, said: “Being shortlisted in the UK Social Mobility Awards is fantastic national recognition of the hard work being carried out by my colleagues across ARU, and it shows that we are on track to meet the aims set out when ARU Peterborough was established.
“There are many people in Peterborough for whom university has previously not been an option. Having a modern university on their doorstep, offering an innovative employment-focused curriculum that includes campus lessons, distance learning, in-work training and apprenticeships, makes university more affordable and accessible to local residents.
“Across ARU as a whole, some 87% of our students belong to one or more groups that are under-represented in Higher Education. We are hugely proud of our students’ ambition, hard work and diversity, and we never forget that a significant number of the students have overcome barriers, whether social, physical or economic, to study with us.
“ARU Peterborough is already attracting a diverse student population from non-traditional backgrounds to Higher Education, which in time will help to redress the balance between Peterborough and the rest of the region. We are particularly delighted that 47% of all applications for the first September 2022 entry to ARU Peterborough came from people living in local, PE postcodes.”
The winners of the UK Social Mobility Awards will be announced at a London awards dinner in October.
ARU has also been shortlisted in three categories of the Green Gown Awards 2023, which celebrate sustainability excellence in UK Higher and Further Education. ARU is a finalist in the Next Generation Learning and Skills category through its innovative Ruskin Modules which bring students together from different courses to create new ways of tackling global societal challenges.
Dr Zareen Pervez Bharucha, of ARU’s Global Sustainability Institute, has been shortlisted for Sustainability Champion for her role in helping to establish the Sustainable Development Goals Working Group and leading data collection within ARU.
And ARU is also shortlisted in the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Sustainability category for Energy SHINES, which is project run by ARU’s Global Sustainability Institute to help tackle the under-representation of women in energy research. The winners of the Green Gown Awards 2023 will be announced in November.