Skip to main content

Earlier this week, Michael Gove highlighted the “morally indefensible” domination of people who attended private schools in all aspects of society – from law to entertainment and sport. In the speech he emotively described how the issue of under-achievement continues to be overlooked and his own passion for positive change.

Rather than just private school representation though, perhaps what Mr. Gove was trying to highlight is the lack of participation in society – but especially in the professions – of those from less-privileged backgrounds. As a group of young professionals, this is an under-achievement issue that concerns us.

According to The Bridge Group, university students from less-privileged backgrounds who access university perform academically as well as their more privileged peers. Unfortunately, when it comes to graduate outcomes, the issue of background resurfaces and their paths begin to differ. The days of having a top degree from a good institution ensuring a career in the professions are well and truly over.

Graduate success and realising professional potential is increasingly dependent on having the necessary knowledge, soft skills, professional experience and networks – even if you go to a great university. It is precisely these things that students from less-privileged backgrounds tend to lack and find a challenge to gain. This in turn means that they find it more difficult to secure top graduate jobs and consequently the group under-achieves in accessing the professions. The result of poor access is poor representation, which may go someway to explaining the dominance of private school students Mr Gove was referring to.

We believe the solution to this issue will benefit not just students, but employers, universities and the Government. If students from less-privileged backgrounds at universities were better empowered to achieve their professional potential, employers could access an unexplored talent pool, universities would benefit from increased graduate employment and the Government would see improved economic performance.

The importance of this issue and our ability as a group of young professionals to be part of the solution has led us to found upReach. We are seeking partnerships with employers, universities and the Government to run a three year personal and professional development programme across universities and across the professions. The programme will add significant value to those that partner with us and would develop student participants’ knowledge, soft-skills and experience to empower them to realise their professional potential.

We believe that our vision offers an on the ground solution for addressing some of the under-achievement issues that Mr Gove spoke about and ensures that we make the most of our future graduates’ talent.

Henry Morris is the founder of upReach. 

Follow Upreach on Twitter: @up_reach 

The guest blog is published every Friday and views held by contributors are not necessarily those of Bright Blue, as good as they often are.

If you are interested in contributing please contact