Queen Mary University of London is the only Russell Group university in the UK to be ranked inside the top 50 of The Times Good University Guide’s social inclusion index.
Queen Mary ranked 41st in the index, which produces an overall ranking based on factors such as percentage of state, grammar and public school admissions, ethnic minority students and first generation students.
The next best Russell Group university was also based in the capital, as King’s College London, were ranked 86th.
Moreover, Queen Mary is also in the top 20 universities awarding firsts or 2:1s (88%), displaying its ability to marry together widespread accessibility and academic excellence.
Head of Student Recruiting and Widening Participation Jack Fox said: “I think if you look at the history of the university, there is a long-standing tradition of fostering social justice and improving academic excellence hand-in-hand.
“Our founding institutions were established in order to help those less privileged and that is something that definitely continues in essence today.”
Statistics from the Times’ social inclusion index confirm Queen Mary’s commitment to inclusivity: 92.3% of their undergraduate admissions are students who have attended state or grammar schools, 47% are first-generation students, and 39% are from households where the annual taxable income is less than £35,000.
These figures, demonstrated on the graphs below, are ahead of the other Russell Group universities in the capital, with Imperial College London (ICL), University College London (UCL), the London School of Economics (LSE) and King’s College London (KCL) lower in both categories.
This latter statistic is significant, as it automatically qualifies these students for the Queen Mary Bursary programme, which Fox highlights as a critical feature of the university’s outreach scheme.
He said: “The Queen Mary Bursary is really key in supporting our students. A significant proportion of the student body is aided by this programme.
“We regularly review the impact of this bursary with end-of-year evaluations, and over time it has been shown to be a vital piece of support for our students.”
Queen Mary’s strength and variety of its accessibility scheme backs up the data, which suggests that the university is at the forefront of social inclusivity for Russell Group universities across the UK.
On top of the Queen Mary Bursary, they offer a financial assistance fund, enabling students undergoing additional financial hardship to apply for extra funds to support them during their study, as well as the Access to Queen Mary initiative.
This is an 18-month programme targeting demographics outside of Greater London who may not be able to access higher education opportunities, such as students on free school meals.
Queen Mary’s efforts in providing accessibility for their students were also recognised in a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, in partnership with the Sutton Trust and Department for Education, which named them as the best university for social mobility in the country.
The report combined universities’ access and success rates, with Queen Mary recording the highest mobility rate at 6.8%.
Again, this is part of a wider trend of London universities dominating the Russell Group category, with KCL, LSE and ICL all making the top 20.
This equilibrium supports Fox’s comments on Queen Mary’s overwhelmingly high proportion of state and grammar school students.
He said: “On top of the data that you’ve alluded to, this is a pretty clear justification that it doesn’t matter what background you come from. Providing you have the support at university level, you can go on to succeed and I think Queen Mary tells that story really effectively.”
In relation to its relatively high proportion of first-generation students, Fox detailed how Queen Mary goes the extra mile to ensure no prospective student is overlooked.
University application guides have been re-printed in Somali and Bengali, so parents for whom English is not a first language can still be involved in the university application process, which Fox admits can be a challenging one at times.
Fox explained: “It goes back to our mission statement; in that we feel that diversity brings really effective ideas and leads to a more immersive and productive learning environment.
“Queen Mary has that long-term commitment to inclusivity – it is intrinsic within our DNA.
“To achieve a high level of social inclusivity, you have to work hard, and that long-standing reputation is at the forefront of where we are now.”