Posts

University of Northampton logo

University of Northampton given Gold rating for teaching excellence

New Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder The University of Northampton has recently achieved a second Gold – it was given the Gold Award in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework – the highest rating possible, which places it among the elite of the UK’s higher education institutions.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) has been introduced as the only official table which recognises high-quality teaching that better meets the needs of employers, business, industry and the professions, in addition to guiding students on the best places to study.

The official judgement by the Government’s review states: “Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Northampton delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.”

The Government looked at official data and details of what the University provides to its students, and found the following to be “outstanding”:

  • Levels of employment or further study for our graduates;
  • Assessment and feedback;
  • A personalised student experience;
  • Academic support;
  • Our approach to involving students in research, scholarship and professional practice – particularly research in the community and sector-leading work focused on social enterprise.

University of Northampton Vice Chancellor Professor Nick Petford, pictured, said:

“This rating by the Government is confirmation that the University of Northampton is one of the finest teaching institutions in the UK, offering our students an experience that many promise but few can deliver. Our staff and the students who have studied with us – both in the UK and overseas – can take pride today in this outstanding achievement. We may be one of the youngest universities in the UK – but are officially one of the best.”

“It is particularly pleasing to be recognised as a sector leader in social enterprise, something we have been building on strategically since 2010.  Our promise now is to build on this recognition of teaching excellence and continue to deliver our mission to transform lives and inspire change.”

The Government asked the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to implement the 2017 TEF exercise. Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said: “Students invest significant amounts of time and money in their higher education. They rightly expect a high-quality learning experience and outcomes that reflect their potential. The UK already has a high bar for quality and standards, which all universities and colleges must meet. But the TEF judges excellence above and beyond this, clearly showing the highest levels across the sector.”

“The TEF measures the things that students themselves say they care about: high-quality, engaged teaching and a supportive, stimulating learning environment which equips them with the knowledge and skills they need to achieve their potential, and then to progress to a good job or further study.”

The TEF results and the evidence used in the assessment can be found at www.hefce.ac.uk.  The TEF awards will also be published on Unistats and the UCAS website, alongside other information, to help inform prospective students’ choices.

You can find out more about The University of Northampton’s Gold Award on its dedicated webpage.

Graduates

Recognising social enterprise excellence in Higher Education

Three UK Higher Education Institutions have become the latest organisations to be awarded the prestigious Social Enterprise Gold Mark, in recognition of their social enterprise excellence.

Plymouth College of Art, The University of Northampton and the University of Winchester join a growing network of gold standard social enterprises, which have proven their commitment to creating lasting positive impact on people and planet, through their trading operations.

Following a rigorous assessment process, the Social Enterprise Gold Mark awards were presented at our annual conference in Winchester on Monday 5th June. The awards were presented by James Evans, who is a member of the independent Certification Panel, which upholds the rigour of the assessment process and oversees the process of applications and assessments. The panel has the final decision on all applications for the Social Enterprise Gold Mark.

The Social Enterprise Gold Mark offers enhanced accreditation to social enterprises wishing to demonstrate their excellence, assessing three essential areas of business operations:

  • Governance – stakeholder representation in strategy and operation
  • Business ethics – complaints handling, diversity, equality, pay, workplace issues and social auditing
  • Social impact and financial transparency – how income and profits are used to create added social and environmental impact

The accreditation focuses on measuring what makes a social enterprise excellent, and how they can continue to improve their impact. Successful applicants receive an individually tailored action plan for continuous improvement, in line with guidelines of best practice.

Hannah Harris, Director of Development, and Professor Andrew Brewerton, Principal and Chief Executive of Plymouth College of Art, with the Social Enterprise Gold Mark award

Hannah Harris, Director of Development, and Professor Andrew Brewerton, Principal and Chief Executive of Plymouth College of Art, with the Social Enterprise Gold Mark award (Photo credit: Dom Moore)

Professor Andrew Brewerton, Plymouth College of Art’s Principal and Chief Executive said: “Creative learning is transformational: in terms of individual lives, the life of our community and its prosperity within the UK’s world-leading creative economy. The work of our staff and students at Plymouth College of Art and at The Red House, home to Plymouth School of Creative Arts, is deeply embedded in our community, and we feel honoured and delighted that this commitment over many years has been recognised with the Social Enterprise Gold Mark. This is in truth an acknowledgement of our community as a whole, and everybody across our networks of social engagement in Plymouth as a Social Enterprise City.”

Nick Petford, Vice Chancellor of The University of Northampton receiving the Social Enterprise Gold Mark from James Evans

Nick Petford, Vice Chancellor of The University of Northampton receiving the Social Enterprise Gold Mark from James Evans

Wray Irwin, Head of University Centre for Employability and Engagement at The University of Northampton, said: “Northampton leads the charge when it comes to learning that makes an impact on society. Our whole way of working reflects this; making a difference is in our DNA. Receiving professional recognition for this is great news, but the Social Enterprise Gold Mark in particular is testament to the dedication at Northampton, from students and staff alike to ‘do good things’ in the world beyond university. It goes without saying that the award really belongs to all of them. We all look forward to continuing on this path in the months and years ahead.”

Professor Joy Carter of University of Winchester receiving Social Enterprise Gold Mark from Lucy Findlay

Professor Joy Carter of University of Winchester receiving Social Enterprise Gold Mark from Lucy Findlay

Professor Joy Carter, Vice Chancellor at The University of Winchester, said: “As a values-driven university, all we do is closely aligned to the Social Enterprise Gold Mark priorities. From divesting our fossil fuel linked investments, our pioneering work with care leavers and others who are underrepresented in higher education, through to our world-leading research in peace and reconciliation, we are a university driven by a passion to make a difference. Big ideas, growing flourishing people and communities, being the difference for a better world. So we are delighted to have the Social Enterprise Gold Mark to help us both communicate our unique focus and priorities, as well as to be continuously challenged.”

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC, added: “We are delighted to welcome these organisations to our expanding network of ‘gold standard’ social enterprises. We have seen an increasing interest from the Higher Education sector over the last 12 months, which is an encouraging development, as it symbolises a commitment to creating social change, for which such institutions have a huge potential scope to achieve.”

Please click here for more information about the Social Enterprise Gold Mark.

University of Salford Enterprise team recognised for entrepreneurial support

SalfordSocial Enterprise Gold Mark holder University of Salford has been recognised for its efforts in engaging students in enterprise activity, at a prestigious awards ceremony.

The Enterprise team in Student Experience and Support won the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) Award for Entrepreneurship, in recognition of the services that the enterprise team offer to students, both within the curriculum and within its extracurricular support opportunities.

Over the last five years, £1 million has been invested into student and graduate entrepreneurship at the University of Salford. This has included investment in start-up grants, incubation services and the team co-founded the largest dedicated Postgraduate Enterprise student conference in the UK – Enterprise Futures. This conference aims to inspire entrepreneurship and encourage postgraduates to turn their research ideas into venture creation, now working in partnership with The University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University.

Dominic Martinez, Head of Business and Enterprise, said:  “I am delighted that a combination of workshops, boot camps, individual one-to-one meetings and our incubation services had an impact on over 2300 students and graduates last year and we got great feedback from our students in a recent survey of over 1000 of people who use our services. We have a small team but it is a massive team effort, and to get external recognition alongside the recent Vice-Chancellor’s awards for our team is thrilling.

“As well thanking the internal Enterprise team, I would also like to give credit to our external advisory staff Adrian Ashton, Isla Wilson and Jon Monk for their hard work”.

University of Salford prides itself in offering lifelong enterprise and business start-up support to all students and graduates both within the curriculum and beyond. This can consist of anything from funding advice, to support with writing business plans. The enterprise team also offer hugely popular workshops, such as Enterprise Academy sessions. These run which run in early evenings, to allow students and graduates to attend outside of their class time. Since Jan 2015, more than 30 events have been held, with great success attracting nearly 1000 students.

AGCAS is the professional body for careers and employability professionals working with higher education students and graduates and prospective entrants to higher education.

Lucy Findlay

Services/products you wouldn’t expect to be delivered by social enterprises

During my 15 odd years working in the social enterprise sector, I have been asked countless times to explain what a social enterprise is. Like many others in the sector I am sure, I tend to wheel out the same well-known examples, such as Big Issue and Age UK, to illustrate the concept of social enterprise. Using these ‘mainstream’ big name examples does help to get people’s heads around the idea of social enterprise, although I often think of the many organisations operating across the country (and internationally for that matter), that fit the bill but do not have the label. That is, they want to make a profit but commit to reinvesting this to create benefits for people and the planet. These businesses operate in almost every industry, and I am sure many people would be surprised at the wide range of products and services delivered by social enterprises.

Using examples from our network of Social Enterprise Mark and Gold Mark accredited organisations, I have listed below a handful of the products and services that you probably didn’t realise were delivered by social enterprises.

 


Bed-iconAccommodation and conference facilities

It’s a service that we all use at some point, either in a personal or professional capacity, but many would not readily consider that hotels and conference venues would offer much in terms of creating social value.

The WesleyHowever, take the Wesley Hotel for example – the only hotel to have been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark and the first ethical hotel in the UK. The Wesley is committed to sustainable operations and social responsibility, which underpins everything they do, from procurement to waste management, and from water usage to employment practices.

A distinct example of how they create social value is the Hilda Porter Bursary Fund, which provides funding for marginalised students and young people in the UK and developing world, who do not have the means to study at higher education level.

 


Dollar-iconBanking and finance

With the negative press frequently associated with the banking and finance sector, it may be surprising to learn that there are a growing number of ethical banks and financiers, including Charity Bank – a bank entirely owned by charitable foundations, trusts and social purpose organisations.

Charity-BankCharity Bank was founded to support charities with loans that they couldn’t find elsewhere and to show people how their savings could be invested ethically and in ways that would make them happy. Their community of borrowers, savers, shareholders and staff are all working towards one goal – helping to create lasting social change in communities. Loans are provided to organisations to further their social missions, and borrowers are assessed on both immediate benefits for their beneficiaries, and longer term benefits for the borrower themselves.

 


Degree-iconHigher Education

Higher Education is not the first thing that pops into most people’s minds when they think of social enterprises, especially given the modern cost of studying for a degree. However, we have noticed a growing in interest social enterprise from the Higher Education sector, and there are now 5 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) which have been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark or Social Enterprise Gold Mark in recognition of their commitment to creating positive social and economic change:

More than ever before, HEIs are placing civic engagement, social and environmental justice, and sustainable economic development at the heart of their strategic plans and student experience, and each of the above institutions have demonstrated a commitment to these values, putting sustainable and ethical business practices at the heart of their strategic direction.

 


Browser-iconIT and digital services

Again, these services may not immediately spring to mind when thinking of services provided by social enterprises, but there are organisations in the IT industry that place an emphasis on operating ethically and creating social impact.

CosmicCosmic is one such example; an ethical digital agency specialising in website development, IT training courses, business consultancy, tech support, digital marketing and search engine optimisation. They were the very first organisation to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark back in 2010, and have a key objective of improving digital inclusion – providing IT support for people and organisations who need it the most.

They are continually involved in a range of projects which achieve meaningful impact for individuals and organisations across the South West and use their own resources to develop and deliver project work benefiting thousands of people.

 


Pen-iconOffice supplies

It’s not just services that are delivered by social enterprises – there are many retail businesses that operate in competitive commercial markets, whilst maintaining a commitment to social and/or environmental objectives.

Supply ShackAn interesting example of a non-conventional social enterprise is Supply Shack – a group of sub-divisions selling office supplies, furniture, promotional gifts, signs, as well as design and print services.

They have a strong social mission; their primary objective is to drive social change. They achieve this through their unique ‘giving back to the community model’, whereby they offer an extensive range of products and services at competitive rates, the majority of profits from which are reinvested into the community with a focus on making a difference to people’s lives. Each year their customers vote for the community projects and charities that Supply Shack will support. They also engage with charities and apprenticeship schemes to offer employment opportunities for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

 


This is just a handful of examples, you can find many more in our online directory of accredited social enterprises. I urge you to look out for the Social Enterprise Mark and Gold Mark badges as a sign of social enterprise credibility – all organisations that we accredit are guaranteed to be operating with the primary motivation of creating benefits for people and the planet.

New Look Marks

White and orange circles on a yellow background

New look for Social Enterprise Mark accreditation

We are excited to unveil a new look for Social Enterprise Mark CIC and our accreditation Marks – the Social Enterprise Mark and the Social Enterprise Gold Mark.

New logos

Look out for these Marks as a sign of social enterprise credibility

Our objective in creating these new designs was to more clearly demonstrate/communicate the status of those displaying the Marks as proven and accredited social enterprises, guaranteed to be trading for the benefit of people and planet.

We have also created a new identity for Social Enterprise Mark CIC, as the guardians of credible social enterprise standards. We feel that the new logo clearly reflects our mission: “To assure the social enterprise business model remains ethical, credible and commercial through accreditation.”

gammarayIt was a pleasure to work with Troy Woodhouse of Plymouth-based creative agency Gammaray Creative in designing the new look for the organisation. Gammaray Creative has a strong social mission to make a difference to people less fortunate, and follow a simple mantra; “Take your talent and pass it on”.

 

We will be rolling out the new logos gradually over the summer and all Social Enterprise Mark and Gold Mark holders will receive the new versions to proudly display their status as an accredited social enterprise, independently guaranteed to be creating benefits for people and planet.

To request a copy of any of the new designs, please email marketing@socialenterprisemark.org.uk or call our helpline on 0345 504 6536. We look forward to hearing feedback on the new look.