Solent University is all about creating opportunities: for our students, for our staff, for our partners. We offer expertise and experiences you couldn’t get anywhere else, opening doors and making introductions.
We are dedicated to the pursuit of excellent university education that enables learners from all backgrounds to become enterprising citizens and responsible leaders, while also promoting economic and social prosperity for the communities we serve.
Put simply – we want Solent graduates to be the passionate, creative professionals of the future, bringing expertise and energy into their communities and workplaces.
Social Impact Declaration: Social-Impact-Declaration_Solent-University.pdf
Social Impact Statements:
Social Impact Statements
The Social Enterprise Gold Mark criteria includes a requirement that the applicant can demonstrate that social and/or environmental objectives are being achieved.
In support of this, new applicants and renewing Mark holders are asked to respond to a set of social impact questions, which are designed to help them think about the social impact they create, and to articulate this clearly and succinctly.
Updated July 2018
1) What social differences and changes have you aimed to create (or supported)?
Our mission perfectly encapsulates our focus on supporting students from diverse backgrounds and encouraging social mobility:
“We are dedicated to the pursuit of excellent university education that enables learners from all backgrounds to become enterprising citizens and responsible leaders, while also promoting economic and social prosperity for the communities we serve.”
Our vision is for Solent to be an inclusive university, which is a catalyst for social justice, social mobility and economic prosperity – providing access to top-class university education for all those qualified and able to benefit. We want to see the University offer an outstanding student experience, characterised by the highest quality engagement and intellectual challenge – an experience which develops students’ self-confidence, enhancing their career and life prospects.
This gives purpose to everything that we do as a university. From our research to our focus on widening participation, from our policies to our work in the wider community, our aim is always to work for the social good and to ensure that we do the right thing for all the stakeholders involved.
We are committed to improving social mobility for groups of people who have historically faced challenges breaching boundaries defined by their social circumstances. Through fulfilling this commitment, we are involved in a wide range of stakeholder interests that extend into the local community and add social value beyond that of pure educational output and resulting attainments.
2) What actions have you taken to address the above social aims?
In line with our commitment to social justice, we open our doors to students who would have previously been excluded from higher education, because of either their subject choices in school or their learning styles.
- 97.3% of our students were educated in a state school
- 70% of Solent students are the first in their family to come to university (Yourcourse survey, 2016)
- about 67% have a household income of less than £25,000
Given the background of our students, it is vital that Solent offer bursaries and schemes to support students from low incomes, especially carers and carers. These include the following:
- Bursaries and grants
- ‘On-track’ support programmes
- Student Hub and Wellbeing Hub – providing help and support to students
- ‘Access Solent’ learning support for students with disabilities
The University has an excellent record in widening access to education programmes. We have consistently performed better than total UK sector averages for the three key performance measures: attracting students from low participation neighbourhoods, lower social classes and state schools.
Our Access Outreach Officers are specifically focused on activity with students from under-represented groups, including those in Year 12 (first year at college or sixth form), and ensuring impact on the right students. The majority of our access activity focuses on students in Southampton, which has a history of low academic attainment and low aspirations about higher education. We work closely with our partners in schools and colleges in the city to ensure that resources are deployed effectively to those at greatest disadvantage.
Examples of outreach activity:
- Targeted long-term outreach with Year 6
- The Southampton Junior University
- Residential summer school
- Transition support
We are committed to being socially conscious in everything we do. The emphasis placed on social justice is a strong thread that can be traced through all our interactions with stakeholders. Here are some examples of how as a university we have a direct social impact on the community around us:
- Impact through enterprise - we run a number of enterprise initiatives that have a social impact, including Solent Creatives, the university’s unique in-house creative agency that matches up our talented creative students with freelancing opportunities. Many of Solent Creatives’ clients are charities for whom we work pro bono or for a much-reduced fee.
- Social Impact through Research and Knowledge Exchange Partnerships - Solent has been involved in evaluating social research projects since 2012. The social innovation group has worked on numerous projects across urban planning, business enterprise, change management, health and social welfare
- Social Impact through working with the Social Enterprise Link (Solent) – we have supported Social Enterprise Link for a number of years, including providing conference facilities for events. In addition, the University is supporting their bid for Heritage Lottery Funding to research a history of social enterprise in the Solent Region
3) What has changed and what benefits have been realised as a result of your actions?
Since becoming a university, Solent has helped nearly fifty thousand students from all walks of life to make the most of their potential.
The most recent Solent Higher Education Access Tracker (HEAT) report shows clear evidence of the impact of our Widening Participation initiatives. For example, it states that 82% of children that came in touch with a Solent outreach programme and then progressed into HE, were in employment 6 months after graduating with a higher socio-economic grouping than when they entered university.
We have recently been independently credited as the 12th best University (by Economist) for boosting graduate earnings - a significant indicator of our mission to improve the social mobility of students from backgrounds that do not normally progress into HE; we have achieved above benchmark recruitment levels for individuals from state schools, low participation neighbourhoods, and lower socio-economic groups. The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) state that Solent lead the way in supporting white males from disadvantaged backgrounds.
In recent years we have invested significant resources aimed at attracting students and enhancing their learning experience. These also yield benefits for our wider community: for example, the development of the Warsash School of Maritime Science and Engineering provides facilities and equipment that are made available for use to local groups, such as the Sea Scouts; the new Sports Complex will be open to the local community, providing a range of free and subsidised health and leisure facilities, as well as educational and recuperative support activities.
‘On track’ support programmes
In 2016/17, 27% of the students on the programme successfully graduated; 45% proceeded to the next level of their course; and less than 3% suspended or withdrew. Five students suspended; all of these had faced long-term, significant health or personal issues.
Without On-Track these students were at significant risk of facing withdrawal through non-attendance, or failing the year. It is hoped that with appropriate support they will be able to resume their studies the following academic year.
On Track has significantly improved the communication between parts of the University, which in turn has improved the student experience. For example, issues can be raised on behalf of the student and a resolution sought within On Track case meetings without the student needing to approach different departments; this is particularly useful for students who are struggling with personal, confidential problems, or with a complex disability.
4) How do you and other people know your aims are being achieved? Or how will you know?
Students are canvassed for their opinions through online surveys such as the Solent Unit Evaluation surveys at the end of every unit, as well as through annual national surveys such as the NSS and the PTES and PRES.
Our annual report and financial statements show the generation of regular surpluses and provide quite detailed narratives concerning different income and expenditure activities, reinforcing accountability and transparency (including a financial risk analysis and statement of governance). A report on Key Performance Indicators provides a summary of key social outputs and outcomes, particularly those reflecting on social mobility interests and enhancing the student experience.Annual reports also provide quite detailed reflections on how the University has endeavoured to fulfil wider social objectives. These summarise the communities of interests being engaged with, listing key stakeholders and generally describing the nature of some of key social inputs and outputs; these also reflect on the nature of end social outcomes arising from these inputs/outputs, with some measurable outcomes data around the impact of widening participation.
The below questions are not mandatory, but Mark holders are encouraged to answer them where possible, to provide a fuller account of their social outcomes and the social value they create.
5) What additional social benefits have you been able to deliver within your core services that distinguish you from other “for shareholder profit” providers?
Solent’s Coaching Innovation Programme (CIP) represents a major contribution to coaching, physical activity and sport provision in Southampton and the surrounding areas. The CIP enables students to work with a community to develop a project that uses sport, coaching and physical activity alongside other techniques, to address specific needs of the community. To date, the students from the course have delivered a variety of innovative programmes, which beneficially impact around 500 people a year in the Southampton area.
Each year, the University allocates funds to support graduates who are still unemployed 6 months after graduation. In 2017/18 we are offering 42 micro-internships, which include 4 weeks of paid work placement alongside career development support. In addition, a Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Development Planning has been developed for students whose caring responsibilities or work commitments preclude them from taking part in the micro-internships. This is particularly aimed at students who may be working in jobs that aren’t graduate level. The Vice-Chancellor is offering up to 30 bursaries of £3,000 to cover the fees in full for unemployed graduates or graduates employed in entry level roles. This work is co-ordinated by Solent Futures, the University’s careers service who also offer careers advice for life to all Solent alumni.
6) What other social benefits have you contributed that go beyond your core delivery activities (ones that are completely unrelated to your main services)?
Sport Solent in the Community was set up as the University’s own charity, which offered small grants of up to £1,000 to support projects based on sport or physical activity that benefit the Hampshire community. The aim of the trust was to enable groups, individuals or clubs to deliver programmes of sport or physical activity that benefit the local population, and that broadly support the widening participation agenda.
Examples of organisations that received support:
- Hampshire Harriers - wheelchair basketball club based in Southampton
- Veracity Recreation Ground Trust – to run sport sessions for young people to encourage interaction and promote healthy living
- Basingstoke Junior Park Run - to set up a junior park run in the Basingstoke area
- Weston Adventure Playground - to repair equipment etc in the playground and build a new soft play tunnel
- Monty’s Community Hub – to run sport sessions for young people to encourage interaction and promote healthy living
7) What social and environmental benefits have you created from internal operational policies and actions?
In December 2017, Solent maintained its 2:1 award class and moved up 25 places in the People and Planet University League, which ranks UK universities by how ethical and environmentally friendly they are.
We have achieved this success through a number of key initiatives driven by our commitment to being environmentally responsible as a university. E.g.
- Green Impact Awards - encouraging and rewarding staff for reducing their environmental impact
- Carbon Management Plan - systematic approach to reducing the University’s carbon emissions
- Fairtrade University - Fairtrade products are available for sale in all campus shops and that Fairtrade foods are used in all cafes and restaurants on campus
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