Brookes’ social entrepreneur programme recognised in University Alliance report

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

OBSEA Dragons Den event 2015

The Oxford Brookes Social Entrepreneur Awards (OBSEA) programme features in a new report out this week (Tuesday 24 May) about the role of universities in supporting communities and reducing inequality.

The report, Supporting Thriving Communities: The role of universities in reducing inequality has been published by University Alliance and outlines how universities need to make tackling inequality a core part of their mission in order to meet the government’s ambitions for higher education to improve life chances.

It identifies strategies for success drawing on evidence from across the sector, particularly highlighting collaborative outreach and working in partnership with schools as the most effective ways of supporting underrepresented groups to apply to university.

The report also goes beyond access to champion the wider contribution of universities to tackling inequality, particularly looking at retention, progression and graduate success. 13 case studies from Alliance universities are highlighted, including Oxford Brookes’ social entrepreneur programme, for how it helps to create jobs and business opportunities.

Here at Oxford Brookes widening participation activity and reaching out to a more diverse student body is integral to our way of working, but it is not enough to focus on access to higher study alone. Once students have made it to university, we need to keep them there and support them into professional and rewarding careers.

Alison Honour, Associate Dean for Student Experience, Oxford Brookes University

OBSEA is an award-winning programme for students, staff and recent graduates, who are interested in social entrepreneurship or social innovation or who wish to set up and run social enterprise. It provides the resources, networks, confidence and funding that participants need to start to think creatively about solving some of the world’s most pressing social issues.

Alison Honour, Associate Dean for Student Experience, Faculty of Technology Design and Environment at Oxford Brookes University said: “Universities play an essential role in supporting people and communities to succeed. Here at Oxford Brookes widening participation activity and reaching out to a more diverse student body is integral to our way of working, but it is not enough to focus on access to higher study alone. Once students have made it to university, we need to keep them there and support them into professional and rewarding careers.”

“Our goal is to develop graduates who lead lives of consequence and every year we witness a transformation in those who take part in OBSEA. It enables those passionate about a field of study to put the knowledge and skills they’re gaining here at the University into action to make the world we live in a better one.”

More information about OBSEA can be found on the website.

University Alliance Chief Executive Maddalaine Ansell said: “Universities will only be fully supporting social fairness when everyone with the ability to benefit from a university education has the opportunity to do so. This must go beyond "access" to include ensuring students are supported to complete their studies and progress to further study or a good job.

“As powers and budgets are increasingly devolved from Westminster and Whitehall, our universities stand ready to work with schools, businesses and local leaders to make cities and regions fairer places where everyone has the chance to succeed.”

The report is the second in a series of University Alliance publications this year, focusing on the leadership role of universities as anchor institutions in cities and regions, working within wider ecosystems and responding to common real-world challenges in an enterprising, innovative and creative way.

Image: Dragon's Den event in 2015 as part of OBSEA