LSE tops social mobility report

“LSE has a longstanding commitment to fair access and widening participation"
Old Building 4x3
Old Building

LSE has increased its proportional intake of disadvantaged students more than any other high-tariff English university over the last five years, a new report has revealed.

The ‘Joining the elite: How top universities can enhance social mobility’ report by the thinktank REFORM assessed the measures adopted by 29 leading universities to increase access and found that from 2011-12 to 2015-16 LSE had made the most progress in this area.

LSE also made significant progress against its Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) benchmark  for this work and improved by 4.5 percentage points over five years - four times more than the University of Bristol who were second best on this measure.

The report’s authors attributed a large part of LSE’s success in this area to its introduction of contextualised admissions - whereby the university takes an applicant’s background and circumstances into account - and recommend other institutions consider what lessons to draw from this practice.

In fact, the report suggests if other institutions were to emulate the average effect of the contextualised admissions process at LSE, the number of entrants to high tariff institutions could increase by as much as 3,500 every year (assuming there are enough viable applicants).

As the report highlights, LSE’s process does not involve giving lower offers to under-represented students but instead includes a centralised admissions system, staff trained in implicit bias and a policy ensuring viable applicants who fulfil one or more widening participation criteria progress automatically to the second stage of selection.

The criteria, outlined in LSE’s Undergraduate Admissions policy include, whether applicants live in low participation neighbourhoods; attend low preforming GCSE and/or low performing A level schools or colleges; have spent time in local authority care; have participated in one of LSE’s intensive widening participation schemes or have any other relevant factors such as medical issues or disrupted education experiences.

The work in Admissions is just one part of LSE’s work to widen participation including a comprehensive outreach programme, a generous financial support package and wide-ranging on-course support for LSE students. The School’s approach to widening participation can be viewed in our latest Access Agreement.

Commenting on the report, LSE Director Minouche Shafik said:

“LSE has a longstanding commitment to fair access and widening participation - recruiting students with the highest academic and intellectual potential, regardless of their background.  

“We are delighted that concerted effort and recent initiatives have helped turn more applications from talented but under-represented students into offers. We will continue to monitor and build on this work, seeking out the most effective ways we can attract exceptional students from all parts of society.”

This report follows news earlier this year that LSE has invested more in widening participation and student support as a proportion of its home undergraduate fees than any other English university.

To view the full REFORM report visit: 'Joining the elite: How top universities can enhance social mobility'

Behind the article

LSE’s Widening Participation Team delivers a comprehensive programme of pre-entry outreach, engaging with over 2700 young people in 2016-17 from across 294 London State schools and colleges. See LSE Widening Participation for more information 

There are a series of developments planned in 2017-18 to further LSE’s work in widening participation, these will include:

  • A new group, with teacher representation, to ensure even greater value of our outreach efforts;
  • Continued development of student-led activity in the transition to LSE for those from our WP schemes;
  • Further research and analysis to demonstrate the impact of our work in widening participation, and shape future developments for both LSE and the sector through the sharing of outcomes and best practice.

LSE takes a School-wide and whole lifecycle approach to widening participation driven by the Widening Participation Steering Group chaired by Pro Director for Education Professor Paul Kelly.