Community has many meanings for City. There is the University itself: students, academic and professional staff, members of Council and Senate and our Chancellor, the Lord Mayor of London. City is also the focal point for a diverse, vibrant network of alumni, who are spread around the world and work in a variety of sectors.
We are part of a national and global community of higher education institutions with a responsibility to ensure that our research benefits wider society and that talented students can access education, regardless of their background. And, of course, we interact with our neighbours in Islington and its surrounding boroughs everyday. We have a duty to ensure that our actions have a positive effect, exemplify best practice and ensure sustainability for future generations. Here, we highlight some of City's activities within its many communities.
The University is a charity, so it must always operate with a view to creating public benefit. Broadening education provision for sectors of society typically under-represented in higher education is a key way that City can benefit the wider public. Working within Careers, Student Development and Outreach, City's Widening Participation team, coordinates a range of activities to help young people make well-informed, realistic decisions about their futures. The team combines in-depth knowledge of higher education and career routes with insight into industry gained from its networks of employers. Its members draw on this expertise to challenge preconceptions, raise attainment and assist young people to develop the skills and knowledge needed to achieve their aspirations.
The key is engaging with young people from low-income neighbourhoods, who have no family history of attending university, who receive free school meals or who face other societal barriers to progression, at the beginning of their school lives. The Widening Participation team begins providing information, advice and guidance to primary school children and continues to work with them at key progression points. Through a wide range of interactive and engaging outreach activities, young people are encouraged to develop a clear understanding of the higher education offer and its financial dimension, identify their strengths and goals, make well-informed decisions and develop the skills to act on those decisions.
In the ten years since City began delivering Widening Partipation activities, engagement has increased dramatically. Today, London students are 43 per cent more likely to advance in higher education than those in the north east and are 36 per cent more likely to make this life-changing decision than in 1990 (compared with 26 per cent in other areas of the UK). Pivotal to the success of this work is our student body, with 180 current students employed as City Student Ambassadors each year to work on a range of events including visit days, taster weeks, masterclasses and industry days.
Attending the engineering taster week really encouraged me to go to university. The week itself enabled me to get an insight into what engineering is all about and being the first to attend university from my family meant that I had no idea how the education system operates.
Shamiur Rahman, Engineering taster week attendee, 2013
A focus on education
As with the taster weeks, our Student Ambassadors have a vital role to play in education, tutoring in primary and secondary schools and at City and Islington College, where the focus in recent years has been on mathematics.
Research has shown that 77 per cent of primary school children felt that tutoring had motivated them to work harder and had helped them with their school work. Tutoring has been shown to improve performance, with 94 per cent of local primary school pupils achieving level 4 (compared to 84 per cent nationally) in mathematics and 9 per cent achieving level 6 (compared to 3 per cent nationally).
The University plays a key role as a co-sponsor of City of London Academy Islington (COLAI), which is committed to providing excellence in education and opportunities for all. The Academy's Year 11 pupils achieved record GCSE results in August 2013, with 61 per cent of pupils securing at least 5 A*-C grades including English and Mathematics . 85 per cent of 'A' Level students received A*-C grades. During the year, 30 City Student Ambassadors tutored mathematics at COLAI, targeting students who were at risk of not achieving a grade C and complementing COLAI's own work to improve grades. Most students are now on track to achieve grade C.
Sustainability occupies a central position in City's Strategic Plan; our environmental performance, as evaluated by the People and Planet Green League, is one of the Plan's four Key Performance Indicators. In 2013, City's Environment team rose to the challenge, being awarded a first-class award and taking 23rd place in the national rankings. This impressive performance reflects a year of success across several areas, from improvements in our carbon reduction and energy efficiency to a significant reduction in the waste we send to landfill. These achievements build on longstanding success in areas including sustainable procurement and the promotion of greener travel among students and staff.
In 2013, the number of Environmental Champions at the University increased by 40 per cent. More than 200 students and staff now work within departments or students groups to promote green behaviour and lead environmental projects. A particularly exciting development in 2013 was the launch of Green Dragons, a project funded by the National Union of Students and led by the Students' Union which aims to increase engagement with environmental issues. Students and staff can pitch ideas for promoting sustainability and, if successful, awards of between £500 and £5,000 will be made to help them establish their projects.
We hope that Green Dragons will become a permanent feature at City, with long-term benefits for the local community. We want to bring together students and staff with experts in industry and government to help get projects off the ground.
Giulio Folino, President of the Students' Union
City and the wider world
In 2013, City expanded its lively and extensive range of events aimed at building public engagements and showcasing the best of what the University has to offer. From seminars on music and management to concerts and film screenings, public lectures and panel debates, we are committed to ensuring our doors remain open to those beyond the student community. Many of our public lectures are available to view online, alongside our City Perspectives video series, in which our academics give expert opinion, analysis and insight on topical issues that affect the wider world.