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Social mobility has been a key policy concern of the governments of the past decade. There are persistent differences in accessing professional careers by university type, school type and social background whilst admission to the sorts of selective university conferring an advantage in access to a professional career is itself much less likely for applicants from less privileged social backgrounds.
Dr Catherine Dilnot is leading work focusing on how differential choices of school qualifications, particularly at age 16-19, impact the trajectories of young people into and through university and on into the labour market. Her work has illuminated how A-level subject choices are constrained by earlier school choices and performance, and how such choices have lasting consequences for young people, through their relationship with admission to selective university. She has collaborated with researchers at UCL, Bristol, Durham and the Behavioural Insights Team, and the work is relevant to a range of stakeholders across the UK, including schools careers and subject choice advisers, the Department for Education (DfE), and universities’ widening participation departments wishing to design unbiased admissions processes.
Research is also being undertaken jointly with colleagues at UCL on an innovative project with major graduate employers to analyse their recruitment data. Their work informs the firms’ practices as they seek to recruit a more diverse workforce, as well as making findings publicly available in due course so that good practice can be shared more widely with graduate recruiters, thus enabling young people from less privileged backgrounds to realise their career aspirations and achieve a fairer society.
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