Embed social enterprise into your institution

Transform the way you are perceived by students and stakeholders and position yourself as an institution creating social value for money

Research shows the next generation of business people measure success by more than just financial reward.

Students and graduates are increasingly reporting that they seek employment and lifestyles that enable them to contribute to the social, cultural and environmental wellbeing of their communities, society and the world around them.

This presents an opportunity for university leaders who choose to put ethics, civic engagement, social and environmental justice and sustainable economic development at the heart of their strategic plans and student experience…

… By gaining accreditation you can demonstrate to the next generation of applicants how you are creating social value for money.

Our social enterprise accreditations demonstrate to students how your institution plays a significant role in the social, cultural and economic development of society, and how students can be part of a social enterprise culture.

Additionally, the Social Enterprise Gold Mark can help to position, evidence and prove credentials in a number of existing related HEI initiatives which encourage universities to develop deeper engagement with local communities, partners and businesses, including the Knowledge Exchange Concordat and the Civic Universities Framework.

Find out more about the use of accreditation in supporting existing HEI initiatives/requirements:

Lucy Findlay joins Sean Fielding of Praxis Auril for a discussion on the place of universities as social enterprises and how that fits with Knowledge Exchange activities

Lucy Findlay speaks to Matthew Guest and Greg Wade for a discussion about the Knowledge Exchange Concordat, part of a series of interviews run by GuildHE and Universities UK

Benefits of Social Enterprise Mark accreditation

Social Enterprise Mark CIC provides clear standards for the social enterprise sector.
We assure the business model remains credible, ethical and commercial through independent accreditation, which enables social enterprises to prove their credentials.

Stand out from competitors

Support student recruitment by standing out as a university committed to creating benefits for people and planet


Join an exclusive network of like-minded HEIs, which are all committed to embedding social enterprise within their institutions

International recognition

The Social Enterprise Mark is an internationally recognised symbol of social enterprise credibility. Social Enterprise Mark CIC work with international partners to raise the global profile of social enterprise


The robust assessment process is overseen by an independent Accreditation Panel. Not everyone can achieve the Mark, which adds to the credibility of successful applicants

Additional benefits of Gold Mark accreditation

The Social Enterprise Gold Mark is a symbol of excellence for social enterprises.

It is awarded to organisations that can prove best practice across key business areas, including social impact, financial transparency and business ethics.

Proof of excellence

Demonstrate excellence in key business areas, such as governance, ethics, and financial transparency

Tailored action plan

Individually tailored action plan for continuous improvement, in line with Social Enterprise Gold Mark guidelines of best practice


Show the people that matter – staff, students, applicants and partners – how you govern and operate your institution to create social and environmental benefit

Setting benchmarks

Measure how far your institution has come and where you want to go in the future, including developing social impact/value goals. Build on what’s unique about your institution

Get your application started today

Firstly, complete this short form to register your interest. We will then be in touch within two working days to find out some more details about your institution and to discuss the assessment process.

Alternatively you can contact us on 0345 504 6536 or via email.

Hear what social enterprise universities have to say

The Social Enterprise Mark is an excellent way for us to provide an independent guarantee of our commitment to creating positive social change. It is also beneficial in helping us communicate our aims, purposes, and priorities to students, partners and other stakeholders in an era of increased scrutiny of the role of Universities in society.

“We have been inundated with feedback from those involved by how ‘at-ease’ they felt talking with Richard and grateful that they were able to discuss (and reflect on) their areas of work through the Social Enterprise Gold Mark assessment process.”

Our work with the Higher Education sector

There are now nine Higher Education Institutions accredited as genuine social enterprises, proving that they make a positive difference to society and the communities they service.

Educational establishments are under increasing pressure to diversify their income streams and prove they are in business to benefit the communities they serve. The social enterprise business model provides opportunities for educational establishments from Higher, Further and Tertiary sectors to transform the way they are perceived by their stakeholders and position themselves firmly as a business driven by social objectives.

Social Enterprise Mark accreditation raises the profile of social enterprise as being a commitment throughout the university at all levels.  This enhances and highlights it as an attractive and viable career sector for graduates at a time of high graduate unemployment, as well as supporting the local community and other social enterprises.

Collection of university logos

HEFCE logo

In 2016, we worked in collaboration with the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), on a project to encourage the Higher Education sector to support and promote social enterprise in their institutions.

The aim of the project was to raise awareness of how Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) can operate as social enterprises, putting sustainable and ethical business practices at the heart of their strategic direction. To achieve this, a short film (right) was created to promote the Social Enterprise Mark and Social Enterprise Gold Mark to HEIs, featuring the four pioneering universities that had been awarded the accreditation at that time, talking about the benefits of being recognised as a guaranteed social enterprise, driven by social objectives.