Aston's strong commitment to social mobility

Aston University makes a strong commitment to social mobility
20 April 2011

Aston University has submitted its proposed Access Agreement to the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) for students joining the university in 2012/13.

This follows an announcement that Aston is proposing an undergraduate tuition fee of £9,000 from 2012/13 for UK/EU students.

The Aston University proposal aims to be one of the boldest and best at promoting widening participation. At the moment over 90% of Aston students come from state schools, and 37% are from the lowest four socio economic groups.  Aston is committed to continuing its’ successful widening participation strategy and the Access Agreement sets out  a range of Scholarships  which will provide additional support for over  45% of new Aston students in 2012.

Aston Vice Chancellor Professor Julia King states ‘27% of Aston students come from backgrounds where the family income is less than £18,000. One in three is on a full grant. Our graduate employability is ranked in the top 10 for UK  universities and on graduation, over 80% of our graduates go straight into graduate level jobs, where the median starting salary  is £29,000   . Aston is a university that transforms the lives of many of our students and propels them into exciting careers. We don’t talk about social mobility, or treat it as an add on –we make it happen -   it is absolutely central to the way we work at Aston’

Aston University recognises that many families are under financial pressures and are concerned about the cost of living and the uncertain economic climate. The Access Agreement offers real support to young people with talent and potential from these families, so they can continue to look to the future with confidence.

One key way in which Aston builds confidence and motivation is through the pioneering use of a placement year, enabling students to spend their third year outside university combining elements of study with working in business, industry or the professions. Placement programmes enhance employability skills and job prospects. The Aston placement programme dates from 1966 when Aston first gained University status.

Professor Julia King continues ‘Following the advice of our Student Guild Officers, we are proposing a massive subsidy for our market leading placement year for all new students starting in 2012. The placement year fee for each student will be £1,000. The placement year is a key component in helping  develop highly  employable Aston graduates and we want to encourage all our students to take a placement year irrespective of family income’

From 2012, Aston will also offer free language tuition to all students. An additional language has been demonstrated to improve employment prospects, and many state school pupils may not have had the opportunity to study an additional language at school.

Professor Julia King concludes : ‘ To meet our commitment to social mobility and widening participation we will be investing one pound in every five earned from tuition fee income over £6,000. As a result over 45% of Aston students will be entitled to fee discounts. These will support students from families who may be under financial pressure and enable them to benefit from the transforming effect of an Aston degree’

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