KPMG and UA92 join forces to help tackle social mobility in Higher Education

Nicola Quayle

Professional services firm KPMG is to partner with University Academy 92 (UA92), the new higher education institution to be based in Trafford, Greater Manchester, developed in partnership with Lancaster University.

As a supporter, KPMG will sponsor UA92’s social mobility strategy, working alongside the Bridge Group, the charitable policy association researching and promoting socio-economic diversity and equality.

The brainchild of Manchester United’s Class of 92 (Gary and Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt), the new university academy is part of a wider local masterplan led by Trafford Council, which will bring alternative and innovative skills provision to the communities of Stretford and Trafford and to the boroughs of Greater Manchester.

Students’ degrees will be awarded by Lancaster University, consistently among the top 10 in UK university rankings, and currently the Times and Sunday Times University of the Year, and will include media, business, sport and psychology academic undergraduate programmes.

UA92 has also announced that £2.9m funding for Lancaster University to support the development of UA92 was provided by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), through its Catalyst Fund.

The investment will continue to be monitored by HEFCE’s successor, the Office for Students.

KPMG’s support will include providing guidance around targeted outreach, contextualised admissions policies and measures to support retention for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, as well as ensuring that UA92 engages with, and is a benefit to, the local community.

In addition, the firm will also:

Provide work-related learning for UA92 students through skills workshops and work placements, as well as mentoring for groups of UA92 students from less advantaged backgrounds;

Provide specialist expertise to support UA92’s Partner Advisory Board, including guidance on creating new UA92 relationships with other businesses and ongoing organisational support;

Co-deliver outreach sessions with UA92 in schools and colleges across areas of low social mobility;

Working alongside other UA92 partners, will assist in the co-development of the curriculum ahead of launch in 2019, with subject matter experts from across the firm delivering guest lectures as part of the annual academic programme.

Nicola Quayle, office senior partner at KPMG in Manchester, said: “The issue of social mobility has long been at the heart of our firm-wide commitment to supporting and attracting the very best talent from across our communities, regardless of background.

“It’s for this reason that I am immensely proud to be working with UA92, helping to support the personal and character development of the next generation of graduates.

“While statistics show that more and more students from disadvantaged background are now going into Higher Education, we are nevertheless a long way from equality of opportunity.

“We also know there are substantial gaps between under-represented groups and other students at every stage of Higher Education – from entry, right through to transition into work and later career outcomes.

“With industry engagement and personal development at the heart of the UA92 student experience, we believe there is a real opportunity to help improve outcomes for students who otherwise may not have considered university.”

She added: “UA92’s ambition is to produce work-ready graduates who are critical thinkers, digital champions, problem solvers, creative collaborators and influential communicators.

“By supporting UA92 with flexible work-based learning opportunities for their students, there is also the potential to nurture a pipeline of diverse applicants to KPMG in line with our own social mobility ambitions.”

Gary Neville, founder of UA92, said: “The vision for UA92 has always been to encourage students from a diverse range of backgrounds to enter and succeed in Higher Education.

Prof Simon Guy, left, and Gary Neville, centre

“The unique UA92 Target Talent Curriculum will nurture not only academic knowledge, but also crucial skills that will enable our students to graduate ready not just for successful careers, but with the emotional intelligence and resilience to flourish in all aspects of life in the 21st century.

“We firmly believe that this approach will be game-changing for Higher Education. We are delighted to announce this partnership with KPMG which will significantly support our ambitions to make UA92 accessible to anybody who wants to study with us.”

Professor Simon Guy, interim Principal at UA92, said: “Whilst Higher Education is undoubtedly becoming more open to students from diverse backgrounds, it is acknowledged there is still much work to do.

“Our partnership with KPMG, adding to those already developed with Microsoft, INSIGHT and Lancashire Cricket Club, demonstrates not only UA92’s commitment to social mobility and innovation, but also further endorses UA92’s ambitions as a serious player in the Higher Education space.

“We look forward to working closely with our partners at KPMG to ensure the UA92 offer is as inclusive as possible and together we deliver on the UA92 vision.”

UA92 is holding an Open Day at Lancashire Cricket Club tomorrow, Saturday, July 21.