Rethinking social mobility means rethinking higher education.

‘Concentrating solely on economic progression is pushing social mobility into a corner, and may be doing as much harm as good. Social mobility is in essence about what you think success is. The big issues that are coming to dominate the early 21st century are not compatible with a view of success that is cast purely in economic terms, which is what the present view of social mobility is doing so much to cultivate. Technological change is going to transform or eliminate many of the jobs that we are trying so hard to help young people into. New ones will be created. But they will be different and may lack the economic security of the old ones. Climate change will potentially threaten everything about the contemporary material lifestyles we enjoy in a country such as the UK. The breaking down of traditional English culture is more than a function of membership of the European Union or the Syrian conflict; it is indicative of the changing nature of countries such as the UK as people and information become inexorably more mobile.

Looking at social mobility this way – in the context of the major challenges facing our society – makes it appear a very different question for higher education. It doesn't make the issue of who enters higher education any less important, but it approaches that question not as a government policy commitment that universities have to bear up under (as it is perceived by many at present), but as part of a debate around what higher education itself is for.’ – Times Higher Education


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