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The University of Bolton Soars in Uni Guide Rankings, While Demonstrating Best-in-Class Diversity and Inclusivity Credentials

With The Guardian University Guide, 2024 placing the University of Bolton in the top 30 universities in Britain questions are being raised on the unchallenged idea that those in a higher socioeconomic bracket, typically private school students, are pivotal to the success of universities.

However, with national policy heavily geared towards levelling up, social inclusivity promises to be a major factor in creating a more equitable society.

And increasingly public debate is centred on how many private school students are taking up sought after places at some of the so called top British institutions; a recent report from The Tab highlights the fact that a whopping 15 universities are made up of 20% or more students from fee-paying schools.

This is a divide that progressive universities, such as The University of Bolton, are attempting to flip the script on. As one of the most socially inclusive universities in Britain — in 2021, successful admissions were 95% from non-selective state schools and 60% first-in-family higher education students — the aim is to level up from the grassroots.

The university says more than two in 10 of its students come from some of the country's most deprived areas, yet despite lacking a massive endowment fund enjoyed by elite universities. Bolton is remarkably and consistently improving its offering faster than other institutions in the region.

A person in a lab coatDescription automatically generatedBolton's Vice-Chancellor, Professor George Holmes, said: "Britain is a fantastic example of the successes a diverse nation can achieve when a wide range of different voices are given a full seat at the table.

"At the University of Bolton, the student body and academic staff possess a natural diversity that represents the best of global Britain. The power of bringing people from all walks of life into our university is not lost on us, and we believe our continued work to bolster diversity and emphasise social inclusivity are a big part of our success to date".

A person smiling at the cameraDescription automatically generatedCase in point: as well as being ranked a top 30 university by The Guardian, it's rising in The Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2024 with an 18-place improvement on last year.

In specific categories, the Sunday Times put Bolton at 12th in the UK for teaching quality, 15th for student experience and 10th for social inclusion — all higher than any other university in North-West England.

Students such as odds-defying Codie Farrell, a young mother with two children and an extensive history of debilitating medical issues, have found a home at Bolton University.

Codie said: "Bolton has been fantastic for me and is enabling me to pursue a career as a clinical scientist in haematology, which is a field I am fiercely passionate about."

Other success stories include asylum seeker Yolande Amana-Ghola left The Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2002 and came to the UK alone. Now she's a part-time councillor for Salford City Council and, despite being denied education for eight years before gaining official residency, obtained first-class honours in her BSc and is now considered a top Master's student at Bolton.

Yolande elaborated: "I was denied education as a destitute asylum seeker. This is clearly a gap which many people fall into, and I consider myself lucky to have been such a voracious reader and passionate lifelong learner. Otherwise, I would not have the tools to pursue further education, let alone the English skills to undertake a degree."

And of course, Bolton's much-loved campus family, the Oyesolas.

Accountancy graduate and PhD student Boluwatife Oyesola was the first member of her family to arrive in Bolton from Nigeria nearly a decade ago. She later rose to the position of president of the Student Union and is known as a brilliant ambassador for international students.

Now her daughters Toluwani and Abimbola are also students at Bolton Uni linking two generations to the institution designed to prepare them for their careers.

Boluwatife said: "Bolton University is entirely student focused with such a warm and hospitable environment for people to grow in and improve their knowledge of the world. For us it's become more than a place to study, this is a safe environment to expand our horizons. This is home."