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Former Education Secretary praises York St John University on campaign to level up higher education

Published: 05 February 2021

Rt. Hon. Justine Greening at York St John University

York St John University is implementing an action plan to ensure more people from a diverse range of backgrounds have access to job opportunities and progression.  

The work is part of a national effort to ensure that the UK recovers from the levelling-down effects of Covid-19 by addressing long running inequality of opportunity that prevents many young people from reaching their full potential.   

York St John University has been a key partner in the development of a new set of ‘Levelling Up Goals’ that have been published today by former Education Secretary and Social Mobility Pledge founder, Rt Hon Justine Greening.   

The Goals draw on academic and business expertise and are designed to focus on key life stages, from early years through to adulthood, and to provide a benchmark to track progress.  

The ‘Levelling Up Goals’ are the practical response to the agenda to level-up Britain in the recovery from Covid-19. They have been designed by former Cabinet minister, Justine Greening, alongside Britain's leading businesses and universities to pinpoint key challenges that, if resolved, would create a level playing field on life and job opportunities.  

Following today’s launch of the Levelling Up Goals, partner universities will be hosting seminars throughout the year focusing on specific Goals.   

The seminars will see universities come together with business leaders and policy makers to pinpoint key barriers and solutions to increasing social mobility as well as ways that success against the Levelling Up Goals can be tracked.  

The Goals are intended to set out how the ambition to level up Britain can be achieved. Targets and measurements related to the goals are being developed by the Social Mobility Pledge.  

Between 2012 and 2016, Justine Greening was the UK’s International Development Secretary and during this time, she worked alongside the UN and 184 international partners to agree the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs were designed to be a blueprint to achieve a better more sustainable future for all.”    

She hopes the Levelling Up Goals will provide the same framework for government, education, businesses, communities and others to get behind and address the long running lack of social mobility and inequality of opportunity that exists in Britain.    

Rt Hon Justine Greening said: If Britain is to achieve levelling up, I believe that we need a galvanising set of Levelling Up Goals that can unite Parliament, business, communities and civil society to work in partnership for the common good of our country. These goals give us a clear set of objectives to level up communities.   

Time is of the essence. Covid-19 has levelled down our country and therefore made levelling up not only more urgent, but even harder.  Whilst the solutions may vary, I believe that these Levelling Up Goals can transcend party politics and set clear objectives for the recovery we need to achieve in our communities. In particular, I know that for different communities, different Levelling Up Goals represent far greater challenges than others. With a clear understanding of the challenges, we can work towards building the recovery in local communities.”   

It’s great to be working with York St John University. Levelling up is ultimately about change on the ground in communities up and down this country and they are playing a crucial role in progressing talent and levelling up Britain. York St John University’s support will be absolutely vital. From mental health to supporting our young people to get their schooling back on track, we can work together to make real progress in the recovery from Covid-19.” 

Professor Karen Bryan OBE, Vice Chancellor of York St John University said: “Our University has a long history of enabling people from all backgrounds to benefit from Higher Education. We live in a society where inequalities mean some people experience greater barriers to education than others.  It’s more important than ever that we recognise this and take positive steps to help more people realise their full potential.  Our contextual offer scheme recognises academic ability alongside wider background circumstances and I’m delighted that our work on this means we will be the first university to create an Impact Report based around the Levelling Up Goals framework.    

Justine Greening has campaigned to level up Britain - by spreading opportunities more evenly across the country - for years and in 2018 she co-founded the national Social Mobility Pledge with entrepreneur and philanthropist, David Harrison.    

For more on the Levelling Up Goals, please visit: 

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