The release of the National Student Survey results today should serve as a wake up call for universities. The message from students is resounding: ‘business’ cannot continue as usual.

Alongside the recent OFFA paper, which highlighted the increase in undergraduates from ‘disadvantaged’ backgrounds failing to continue past their first year, the NSS results show it is becoming impossible for universities to ignore students’ concerns. It is clear that many students feel that the support given to them once at university is not matched by the efforts and resources put into attracting them there.

Universities cannot simply offer up flailing platitudes, half hearted widening participation schemes or empty statements that claim that they are doing enough to include and support students from working class backgrounds.

“In my first year at university I felt so isolated. I almost dropped out of university in my first year because I felt I wasn’t prepared for this.” (Law graduate, University of Bristol)

These reports chime with a recent study produced by Educating All. Our research into the barriers faced by working class students offered worrying insight into the challenges faced by universities and students. Over 70% of students who identify as working class cited their class as a barrier when integrating at university. The survey also showed that 86.7% of state school educated students worried about finance whilst at university.

It is vital that universities listen to these students and take action to offer the necessary support beyond the point of access. Universities must do better to enable working class young people to thrive within their institutions. In response to this pressing issue, we have developed an Innovative programme which validate and use the lived experience of working class students to provide tailored support for universities in order to improve the wellbeing and retention of working class students.It is time for universities for be brave in their solutions and actions, they can do that with the support of Educating All.

“Personally I had a lot of mental health issues whilst at university, as well as . The support is just not fit for purpose. Our counselling service always have a couple of months waiting list. That is a huge issue.” - Research participant

Further background:

Educating All is a groundbreaking working class student led programme commissioned by youth leadership charity RECLAIM.  Educating All addresses the barriers faced by working class students within higher education by working with universities to create tailored, student-centred solutions to improve the recruitment, retention, attainment and well-being of working class students. The Educating All report was launched in February and is available here.

Terry Manyeh is available for interview or comment. Please contact him on 0161 234 2950 or t.manyeh@reclaimproject.org.uk