Former Education Secretary praises Make Happen on campaign to ‘level up’ higher education

Make Happen, based at the University of Essex, has received the backing of a former Cabinet minister for its work to improve people’s life chances and access to careers through encouraging young people from low progression areas to consider Higher Education.

Make Happen, funded through the Office for Students Uni Connect programme, is developing an action plan to ensure more people from a diverse range of backgrounds have access to job opportunities and progression to Higher Education.

The work is part of a national effort to ensure that the UK recovers from the levelling-down effects of Covid-19 by addressing long running inequality of opportunity that prevents many young people from reaching their full potential.

Make Happen has been a key partner in the development of a new set of ‘Levelling Up Goals’ that have been published today by former Education Secretary and Social Mobility Pledge founder, Rt Hon Justine Greening.

The Goals draw on academic and business expertise and are designed to focus on key life stages, from early years through to adulthood, and to provide a benchmark to track progress.

The ‘Levelling Up Goals’ are the practical response to the agenda to level-up Britain in the recovery from Covid-19. They have been designed by former Cabinet minister, Justine Greening, alongside Britain’s leading businesses and universities to pinpoint key challenges that, if resolved, would create a level playing field on life and job opportunities.

Following February’s launch of the Levelling Up Goals, partner universities will be hosting seminars throughout the year focusing on specific Goals.

The seminars will see universities come together with business leaders and policy makers to pinpoint key barriers and solutions to increasing social mobility as well as ways that success against the Levelling Up Goals can be tracked.

The Goals are intended to set out how the ambition to level up Britain can be achieved. Targets and measurements related to the goals are being developed by the Social Mobility Pledge in partnership with the University of York.

Between 2012 and 2016, Justine Greening was the UK’s International Development Secretary and during this time, she worked alongside the UN and 184 international partners to agree the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs were designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better more sustainable future for all.”

She hopes the Levelling Up Goals will provide the same framework for government, education, businesses, communities and others to get behind and address the long running lack of social mobility and inequality of opportunity that exists in Britain.

Rt Hon Justine Greening said: “If Britain is to achieve levelling up, I believe that we need a galvanising set of Levelling Up Goals that can unite Parliament, business, communities and civil society to work in partnership for the common good of our country. These goals give us a clear set of objectives to level up communities.

“Time is of the essence. Covid-19 has levelled down our country and therefore made levelling up not only more urgent, but even harder.  Whilst the solutions may vary, I believe that these Levelling Up Goals can transcend party politics and set clear objectives for the recovery we need to achieve in our communities. In particular, I know that for different communities, different Levelling Up Goals represent far greater challenges than others. With a clear understanding of the challenges, we can work towards building the recovery in local communities.”

“It’s great to be working with Make Happen and the University of Essex. Levelling up is ultimately about change on the ground in communities up and down this country and they are playing a crucial role in progressing talent and levelling up Britain. Make Happen, and their partners support will be absolutely vital. From mental health to supporting our young people to get their schooling back on track, we can work together to make real progress in the recovery from Covid-19.”

Stephen Pomfret, Head of Collaborative Outreach, Make Happen, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Purpose Coalition on this incredibly important piece of work. Young people deserve equal opportunity regardless of where they come from or their previous experiences. Our ambition of increasing the number of underrepresented young people in Higher Education is a crucial aspect in Levelling up Britain.”

Justine Greening has campaigned to level up Britain – by spreading opportunities more evenly across the country – for years and in 2018 she co-founded the national Social Mobility Pledge with entrepreneur and philanthropist, David Harrison.

For more on the Levelling Up Goals, please visit:


About the Social Mobility Pledge

More than 500 businesses and universities, representing 7 million employees and students, have signed the Social Mobility Pledge. It is a commitment from organizations across Britain to become a social mobility employer by taking the three steps below:

1) Partnering directly with schools or colleges to provide coaching through quality careers advice, enrichment experience and/or mentoring to people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances. Businesses can work through the many social mobility charities and organisations, such as Speakers for Schools, Inspiring the Future, the Princes Trust, the Careers and Enterprise Company, that are already there to help businesses and employers do more on the ground.

2) Access – providing structured work experience and/or apprenticeship opportunities to people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances

3) Recruitment – adopting open employee recruitment practices which promote a level playing field for people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances, such as name blind recruitment or contextual recruitment.

Employers can sign up today to be a social mobility employer at


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"It’s great to be working with Make Happen and the University of Essex. Levelling up is ultimately about change on the ground in communities up and down this country and they are playing a crucial role in progressing talent and levelling up Britain."