Award for University of Sussex as first-generation students outperform peers in jobs market

The NEON Widening Participation (Success and Retention) award is presented to the University of Sussex's Tim Bradshaw (left) and Andrea Wall (right), both part of the Careers and Employability team. (Credit: NEON)

The University of Sussex has won a national award this week for its work to support students from low-income backgrounds and those who are the first in their family to go to university.

Latest figures show that the first graduates from the University’s First-Generation Scholars scheme are outperforming their peers in the jobs market, with 90 per cent in graduate-level employment or further study, compared to 88 per cent across the University as a whole.

They also achieved an equivalent number of high quality degrees of 1sts and 2:1s compared to the graduate cohort as a whole.

The University was presented with the NEON Widening Access Initiative (Retention and Success) award on Wednesday (18 March) at the Palace of Westminster. NEON is the new professional organisation supporting those involved in widening access to higher education.

Sussex spends around £8 million a year on widening participation activities and more than half of its student body are now on the flagship First-Generation Scholars scheme.

On top of a generous financial support package, the University has been particularly commended for taking its support ‘beyond the bursary’, providing paid internships in the UK and China, a record number of employability events, and opportunities to study abroad or spend a summer carrying out research.

Professor Clare Mackie, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, said the success of the award-winning scheme has put to bed once-and-for-all the notion that under-represented groups are destined to perform less well at university, and after they leave study.

Professor Mackie said: “We’re so proud of our students who are really making the most of their university experience and all the fantastic opportunities open to them.

“We’ve always said that getting under-represented students through the door is only the start, which is why we have put widening access right at the heart of our student experience.

“This award is testament to that ethos and to the hard work of everyone involved, especially Linda Buckham and her team in the Careers and Employability Centre. I am really proud of their achievements and want to personally thank Linda for her leadership of this area, which has really helped our students land in exciting destinations.”

By: James Hakner
Last updated: Friday, 20 May 2016