Exeter Scholars on an open day at University of Exeter

The University of Exeter has won the NEON HE Institution of the Year Award for widening access to higher education (HE).

NEON’s vision is that access to and success in HE should not be related to social background – and the awards celebrate the “transformative power” that HE can have, and recognise key achievements in widening access.

At Exeter, the Success for All programme aims to widen participation, close gaps in student outcomes and build a diverse and inclusive learning environment, while the Exeter Scholars programme gives around 1,000 school students every year the opportunity to find out more about university, develop a passion for a chosen subject and gain first-hand experience of student life.

The awards ceremony was held in the Jubilee Room at the Palace of Westminster on Tuesday.

“Huge congratulations go to everyone involved in Success for All and delivering and championing improvements in access and participation,” said Nicola Sinclair, the University’s Head of Access, Participation and Outreach, and a director of the Centre for Social Mobility.

“The award recognises the significant progress we have made in making our university a more diverse and inclusive place to study, and our considerable achievements in supporting learners within our region.”

Professor Lisa Roberts, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter, added: “As a University, we are committed to leading the progress towards creating a fair, socially just and inclusive society. 

“Our teams have worked tirelessly to create an environment and culture in which everyone can realise their full potential, and we’re delighted to see that work recognised with this award. 

“A person’s background should never be a barrier to educational attainment, and we will continue striving to ensure the University of Exeter is a welcoming and inclusive learning community for all.”

The University of Exeter’s work to ensure access and success for all in HE regardless of social background has been recognised with three UK Social Mobility Awards since 2020.

Its work continues to make an impact nationally through the Centre for Social Mobility, which contributes to policy making and sector knowledge, as well as in the South West region, where innovative partnerships with organisations such as the South West Institute of Technology and Exeter Mathematics School address skills gaps and improve outcomes for local people.

The other institutions shortlisted for the NEON Higher Education Institution of the Year Award were Kings College London and University Academy 92.