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Anglia Ruskin University wins University of the Year title at Social Mobility Awards

Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) has been named University of the Year at the UK Social Mobility Awards, in recognition of the role ARU Peterborough is playing in advancing social mobility across the city and the wider region.

From left, Dr Julie Paine, former chair of Making the Leap, Professor Ross Renton, principal of ARU Peterborough, and Toni Kent, who hosted the awards
From left, Dr Julie Paine, former chair of Making the Leap, Professor Ross Renton, principal of ARU Peterborough, and Toni Kent, who hosted the awards

The UK Social Mobility Awards, known as the SOMOs, are organised by the charity Making the Leap, and were created to raise awareness of and celebrate organisations that are committed to bringing about change and advancing the cause of social mobility in this country.

The judges selected ARU as the winner of the University of the Year title from a shortlist that also included the University of Exeter, the University of Warwick, Lancaster University, the University of the West of England (UWE), and the University of Southampton.

ARU Peterborough is already attracting a student population from non-traditional backgrounds to higher education, helping to redress the balance between Peterborough and the rest of the region. The first September 2022 entry to ARU Peterborough saw 47 per cent of all applications come from people living locally.

Professor Roderick Watkins, vice-chancellor of ARU, said: “This award is fantastic national recognition of the hard work carried out by colleagues across ARU, and shows that we are on track to meet the aims we set out when establishing ARU Peterborough.

“Across ARU as a whole, some 87 per cent of our students belong to one or more groups that are under-represented in higher education.

“We are hugely proud of our students’ diversity, ambition and hard work, and we never forget that a significant number of them have had to overcome barriers, whether social, physical or economic, to study with us.”

Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, chair of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Skills Committee, added: “This is a great achievement and recognition of one of the key reasons why the Combined Authority invested in a new university for Peterborough – to tackle a real cold spot for higher education which was holding back opportunity for local people.

“It is worth nothing that around a half of applications have come from those with PE postcodes and the surrounding region, which shows ARU Peterborough's potential to support social mobility.

“We want ARU Peterborough to be transformative for the city and its region, and that mission is already being recognised, including through this fantastic success.

“I want to congratulate everyone at the Combined Authority, at ARU, and the City Council who continue to work hard to deliver a university which is already bringing many benefits to learners, the community and for the local economy.”

ARU Peterborough has already won a host of awards in its first year, with the UK Social Mobility Awards victory following success at the University Alliance (UK) Awards 2023 and the Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE) awards.

Thanks to ARU Peterborough, ARU is shortlisted for the Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community award in the forthcoming Times Higher Education Awards 2023 – widely known as the Oscars of the UK university sector – and ARU Peterborough has also played a key role in ARU being shortlisted in the overall University of the Year category.

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