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Dr Lee Elliot Major

Social mobility expert joins University of Exeter

One of the foremost experts on social mobility in Britain has been appointed as a Professor at the University of Exeter.

Dr Lee Elliot Major joins Exeter as Professor of Social Mobility from the Sutton Trust, where he has served as Chief Executive.

Dr Elliot Major, who carries out cutting-edge research into the impact of Britain’s declining social mobility in recent decades, will mark his appointment by holding a prestigious lecture at Exeter’s Streatham Campus.

The event, which focuses on Dr Elliot Major’s new book, Social Mobility and Its Enemies co-authored with Professor Stephen Machin from the London School of Economics, will be held on Friday, November 23.

Dr Elliot Major is currently Chief Executive of the Sutton Trust, the UK’s leading foundation improving social mobility through education. He is a founding trustee of the Education Endowment Foundation, and chairs its evaluation advisory board. Lee is the first in his family to attend university.

Professor Janice Kay, Provost at the University of Exeter said: “We are absolutely delighted that Lee will be joining us at Exeter.

“Lee is a world-leader in this vitally important area and as Professor of Social Mobility will take forward pioneering research into higher education access as well as offering inspiring teaching to our students.

“We are hugely committed to helping students to realise their full potential through access to higher education and we have established the Exeter Centre for Social Mobility which brings researchers and practitioners together to promote this agenda.”

Britain currently has the lowest social mobility in the Western world, outside of the USA. In his new book, Dr Elliot Major suggests that the rich and poor are destined to stay on the same rungs of the economic or social ladder for successive generations.

By reviewing hundreds of studies, and producing new research, the book argues that the dream of just doing better, let alone climbing the income ladder, is dying for young people today.

Crucially, the book also outlines the true cost not just to individuals, but also to the nation as a whole both in terms of lost-generations of unfulfilled talent and an increasingly-detached elite class.

The book also discusses the shifting role of schools and universities in creating a fairer future, the key reasons why some countries and regions are increasingly richer in opportunities, and calls for radical steps to tackle low social mobility in Britain.

Speaking ahead of the event, Dr Elliot Major, said: “I am delighted to have this opportunity to present my research to the public during this lecture.

“Social Mobility and Its Enemies is the most comprehensive and accessible account ever published on the evidence for Britain’s low social mobility.

“My aim is to find practical evidence-led ways of fulfilling young people’s talents irrespective of where they come from, and addressing the inequalities that blight the prospects of so many.”

The lecture is taking place on Friday 23 November, Living Systems Institute, Streatham Campus, from 6-7pm. 

Date: 14 November 2018