University of Warwick: Warwick’s widening participation success recognised at House of Lords

The success of Warwick Scholars, a social mobility scheme that addresses the barriers to attainment, progression, and success by enabling students from the least socially mobile communities to reach their academic potential and thrive during their studies at the university, has been recognised at an awards ceremony held at the House of Lords.

The Student Social Mobility Awards are organised each year by upReach, a social mobility charity which works to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds break into the professions. This year’s ceremony celebrated undergraduates, sixth formers, mentors, employers and universities who have supported the social mobility agenda at a time of increasing inequalities due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At this year’s ceremony, the Warwick Scholars scheme was shortlisted for “Highest Impact University Initiative” and two Warwick students shortlisted for their own individual awards.

Vikram and AndyWhile the Warwick Scholars programme was pipped to the title by the University of Bath, 2021 graduates Vikram Khosla and Nobeen Islam received personal awards. Nobeen was the sector winner for Science and Engineering, while Vikram was one of the upReach Ten, the ten students across the whole of the UK who, in the opinion of the judges, were most likely to achieve outstanding personal or career success.

Commenting on his award, Vikram (left, with Andy Johnson) said:

“It was a complete surprise to me! I’d been shortlisted for two of the other awards which I didn’t win on the day. Then at the end they announced the upReach Ten awards and I was delighted to receive this one as it encapsulates both my volunteering and mentoring work and my commitment to doing well in my own career.”

Nobeen Islam Nobeen’s award recognised his academic excellence and his work as an ambassador for STEM initiatives with the younger generation in order to effect positive change within the wider community. Nobeen (right) said:

“The award is an honour and I first and foremost owe my gratitude to God for allowing me to be part of incredible schemes such as upReach and an incredible institution such as Warwick. Being at Warwick has pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to network with driven peers. upReach has provided me with not only career support but has encouraged me, re-enforcing a confidence that people from our background can truly reach new heights.”

Andy Johnson, Widening Participation Lifecycle Officer, said:

“Our nomination for this ‘Highest Impact University Initiative’ award was put forward by our own Warwick Scholars community students, which is a huge honour and shows that the work we are doing it having a real impact.

“Our shortlisting as a finalist for this award was decided by an expert panel of judges from across higher education and business and then by a national student vote.

“To be invited to attend the awards ceremony at the House of Lords was an incredible accolade and endorsement of our programme and further demonstration of the impact it is having with our students.”

Paul Blagburn, Head of Widening Participation and Outreach at the University of Warwick, said:

“Nobeen and Vikram embody the spirit of our widening participation work, being committed to excelling personally while giving support to others. Many congratulations to them both on their upReach awards.

“The Warwick Scholars programme launched in 2019 with the aim of enabling students from under-represented backgrounds to ‘get in, get on and give back. We’re thrilled that it was our students themselves who nominated the Warwick Scholars programme as the ‘Highest Impact University Initiative,’ it’s a real tribute to the sense of community the Scholars have developed.

“Through initiatives like Warwick Scholars and partnerships like upReach Warwick will continue to support students from all backgrounds across their entire journey from access, to their studies at Warwick, and through to employment and further study.”