University of Bath Geography

University of Bath Geography

University of Bath

University of Bath Geography

Geographies of Higher Education: Spatial and social mobilities

This project will shed new light on the geographical limits to social mobility, through the lens of young people’s university choices in the UK.

The creation of a fairer society through social mobility is high on the political agenda in the UK. Who gets into university, and who goes to the most prestigious universities, is seen as critical to addressing intergenerational inequalities. Yet, despite some progress in widening access to Higher Education (HE), social mobility remains weak, suggesting a more complex picture about the ways in which social inequalities are reproduced in countries like the UK.

A new geographical perspective

This project brings geography, and specifically spatial (im)mobility, into the debate about social (im)mobility.

It will provide detailed accounts of spatial and placed dimensions of HE decision making.

The project will investigate:

  • What social, cultural, or economic importance do particular localities hold for different groups?
  • How are these patterns implicated in social mobility?
  • What role does place have on the choices of young people who are socially and educationally similar but located in geographically diverse areas?
  • In what ways might econoically, socially, culturally or politically distinct places act as pull or push factors for different social groups?

Mixed method approach

An innovative mixed methods approach will be used. The study will conduct a large scale mapping of young people’s spatial movements alongside intense qualitative research across 10 UK locations.

Project outputs

  • Two ‘policy briefs’ (published by the Institute for Policy Research)
  • Articles in high impact journals across the disciplines of education, human geography and sociology
  • Publication of findings across other relevant channels (including pieces in The Conversation)