We were delighted to be awarded the University of the Year title at the prestigious UK Social Mobility Awards, in recognition of the role ARU Peterborough is playing in advancing social mobility across the city and the wider region.
ARU is not a conventional university. Around 87% of our students belong to one or more groups under-represented in higher education, and 58% are mature students. We’re proud of their ambition, resilience and diversity and never forget that many have overcome barriers to study with us.
As a multi-campus university, we’re committed to serving the communities in which we’re based.
In September 2022 we opened a new kind of university, ARU Peterborough, designed from the ground up to meet the needs of local students and employers, and the regional economy.
Peterborough is a higher education ‘cold spot’, where only 32% of the population have degree-level qualifications, compared to a national average of 43%. Peterborough also ranks 191st out of 324 local authority districts for social mobility (the bottom 40%), with Fenland ranked 319th (the bottom 1.5%).
Our aim is for ARU Peterborough, as an employment-focused institution, to address skills shortages and boost social mobility. We’ve worked with more than 170 employers to develop a flexible, accessible range of courses that span traditional campus tuition, degree apprenticeships, and work-based learning.
We created the new university through a unique partnership with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and Peterborough City Council. Partnership working has been key to its rapid success, attracting multiple sources of funding and drawing on ARU’s educational expertise.
Throughout the planning period, the partnership engaged with local residents and employers to make sure the university would be welcomed by, and rooted in, its community.
The open-access campus sits in the centre of Peterborough, in the shadow of the cathedral. Its opening marks a milestone for the city: a modern campus; offering a flexible and innovative curriculum makes university more affordable and accessible to local residents.
Ahead of its opening in September 2022, ARU Peterborough received more than 1,600 applications, and supported more than 950 on-campus learners in its first year.
We were delighted that 47% of all applications in September 2022 came from people living in PE postcodes. We also welcomed international and online students from January 2023.
As well as university degrees, other provision includes support for business owners as part of Small Business Britain’s Small and Mighty Enterprise Programme. This short course, delivered online to fit around work commitments, has so far supported 700 people in small businesses.
Since September 2022, ARU Peterborough has established itself at the heart of the city. It will help shape Peterborough’s future as a knowledge-intensive university city, and bring life-changing opportunities to its students and the wider community.