Derby wins Higher Education Institution of the Year Award

22 October 2020

The University of Derby has received its second national award for its contributions to access and participation, after being crowned Higher Education Institution of the Year at the prestigious NEON Awards, two weeks after scooping University of the Year at the UK Social Mobility Awards.

The awards, which were announced at an online ceremony held this afternoon (Thursday 22 October), celebrate the transformative power of higher education and recognise key achievements in access and participation.

The Higher Education Institution of the Year accolade recognises that widening access is at the heart of the winner’s institutional mission and that it is committed to supporting learners from underrepresented backgrounds to success in their higher education journey.

In the award-winning entry, Derby highlighted its growing reputation as a leading institution for social mobility, demonstrated by ranking 2nd in the country in the HEPI Fair Access Table. In the latest HESA Widening Participation report, 24.3% of young undergraduate entrants (4th in UK) and 28.3% of mature undergraduate entrants (3rd in UK) to the University were from low participation neighbourhoods, and the number of mature undergraduate entrants has continuously increased (63% increase since 2015) through targeted professional programmes.

The University’s commitment to social mobility was underscored by its leadership of national programmes designed to improve the life chances of people across the region, and its promise that ‘higher education should be equitable, inclusive and open to all who have the ambition and desire to learn and progress’ (University of Derby Strategic Framework 2018-2030).

Speaking about the award entry, Dr Graeme Atherton, Director of NEON said: “The University of Derby’s promise that “higher education should be equitable, inclusive and open to all who have the ambition and desire to learn and progress” really resonated with the judging panel. They were impressed with the breadth of activities the University undertakes to make a difference to learners within their region. The unique ways in which the University work and the innovation they have shown in engaging learners makes them a worthy winner of NEON’s Higher Education Institution of the Year Award.”

Professor Warren Manning, Provost Innovation and Research at the University of Derby, said: “I am thrilled that the University of Derby has been named NEON Higher Education Institution of the Year, which is testament to the hard work and commitment of the Social Mobility Team here at Derby.

“We firmly believe in the transformational nature of education and by placing social mobility at the heart of our strategic priorities clearly demonstrates our commitment to ensuring everyone, across our region and beyond, receives the high-quality education they deserve, regardless of age, background or location.”

For more information about the University’s work in social mobility

Find out more about the NEON Awards at

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