‘Both disappointing and frustrating’: Bristol ranks near bottom for Social Inclusion

We ranked above Oxford, Cambridge and Durham, but not in a good way

Bristol Uni ranks 113th out of 116 universities for Social Inclusion in the Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021, which has been labelled “disappointing and frustrating”.

The ranking has been criticised by the 93% Club and the Chair of the Widening Participation Network, but the University has strongly defended its record.

The well-respected national ranking of universities says that although Bristol excels in many areas, ranking 13th in the country, still “barely one in 20 students are recruited from the most deprived parts of the country”.

Bristol Uni is well-known as a “posh” university, and has been trying to dispel that image over the last few years, having made “progress” in increasing access to Bristol for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

However, Bristol still dropped three places since last year from 110th to 113th place in the Social Inclusion ranking.

James Fishwick, Chair of the Widening Participation Network, said: “It is disappointing to see the university rank in this low position despite the large amount of access work it does regionally and nationally. To many it won’t come as a surprise, and the figures just solidify the appearance and reality of growing social inequality at UoB.”

He continued by saying that it is a problem that needs solving quickly, or the university will continue to rank behind.

“The university does some good work, but still has a way to go and I’m hopeful the WP network will be able to affect that change throughout the university.”

Alice Bassett, President of the 93% Club, representing students from state school backgrounds, said: “It is both disappointing and frustrating to see the University of Bristol rank so poorly for Student Inclusion. Although the university has already introduced notable widening participation schemes, today’s news demonstrates how more progress needs to be made to ensure that our student community is accessible and inclusive.

“The 93% Club firmly believes that the best learning environment for all is one that is diverse, and we will be working hard this year to ensure we provide a variety of opportunities for state-educated students and those from a lower socio-economic backgrounds, both at the university and in the local community.”

In response to the ranking, a University of Bristol spokesperson said: “We remain firmly committed to making our University community socially diverse and inclusive. While we recognise that there is still significant work to be done, we are making real progress and can see the impact our measures are making.

“In the five years leading to 2019/20, there has been a 90 per cent increase in the University’s intake from students attending the lowest performing schools (796 to 1514). We expect to welcome 1,915 students from these schools over the coming weeks.

“In addition, pupils from state schools are expected to make up almost 73 per cent of our new undergraduates for the upcoming 2020/21 academic year – an increase on last year – and our flagship two-grade lower contextual offer is having a transformative impact on the social diversity of our student community.”

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