Milburn criticises employers over elite recruitment

Barriers to entering many professions are being reinforced by employers who recruit from a small cohort of socially exclusive universities, according to the government’s independent reviewer of social mobility.

May 30, 2012

Former Labour minister Alan Milburn today published the first of three government-commissioned reports looking at how to increase social mobility.

While Mr Milburn will focus specifically on the role of universities in a report to be published next month, today’s study on fair access to professional careers also touches on higher education.

He cites figures on the social exclusivity of the professions: 43 per cent of barristers went to private school, with almost a third graduating from Oxbridge; while 54 per cent of the country’s top journalists went to private school, with a third graduating from Oxbridge.

“This is social engineering on a grand scale,” writes Mr Milburn.

He says: “The UK’s leading employers target an average of only 19 universities for their graduate recruitment programmes…Since those universities are the most socially exclusive in the country, these recruitment practices merely reinforce the social exclusivity of the professions.”

The group of universities from which such employers recruit must be rapidly broadened “if the big growth in professional employment…is to produce a social mobility dividend for Britain”, Mr Milburn argues.

Citing figures from the Association of Graduate Recruiters, Mr Milburn adds: “The five universities most often targeted by Britain’s top graduate employers in 2011-12 were Cambridge, London (including Imperial College, University College London and the London School of Economics), Manchester, Nottingham and Oxford.”

These institutions “have some of the lowest proportions of students from disadvantaged backgrounds”, adds Mr Milburn, citing data on the proportion of entrants from state schools, from the most deprived neighbourhoods and from the most deprived socio-economic groups.

Several of Mr Milburn’s recommendations for fair access to the professions involve a role for universities, including developing schemes for students to mentor school pupils and for the government to “work with universities to develop proposals to integrate a flexible element of professional experience into all higher education courses”.

john.morgan@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride