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Professor Lee Elliot Major

Professor Lee Elliot Major

Professor of Social Mobility, University of Exeter and Author of HEPI Report,
Social mobility and Elite Universities

Lee Elliot Major is Britain’s first Professor of Social Mobility. Appointed by the University of Exeter to be a global leader in the field, his work is dedicated to improving the prospects of disadvantaged young people. Lee was awarded an OBE in the 2019 Queen’s Honours for services to social mobility. His recent report Social mobility and elite universities for the Higher Education Policy Institute called argued that radical reforms are needed for universities to meet official access targets. His Penguin book Social Mobility and Its Enemies, co-authored with Stephen Machin, has attracted attention across the world. His Bloomsbury book What Works?, co-authored with Steve Higgins, summarises thousands of education studies to offer best bets to teachers for improving outcomes for disadvantaged pupils. He was formerly Chief Executive of the Sutton Trust the UK’s leading social mobility foundation. Lee was a founding trustee of the Education Endowment Foundation which has carried out 100s of major research trials in England’s schools. He is an Associate Member of Nuffield College, University of Oxford, an Honorary Professor at the UCL Institute of Education and a senior visiting fellow at the LSE’s International Inequalities Institute. He commissioned and co-authored the Sutton Trust-EEF toolkit, a guide used by 100,000s of school leaders and replicated across the world. He is a Trustee of the Ted Wragg multi academy trust and a Governor at William Ellis School in London. Lee regularly appears in national broadcast and print media, commenting on education and social mobility issues. He has served on several Government advisory bodies and presented several times to the House of Commons Education Select Committee. He has a PhD in theoretical physics and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Sheffield for services to education.  He was an education journalist working for the Guardian and the Times Higher Education Supplement. He is the first in his family to attend university.

  • Assessing the proposals emerging from the new HEPI Report Social Mobility and Elite Universities (December 2019)
  • Evaluating the key barriers leading to reduced uptake for underrepresented groups within elite universities
  • Sharing proposed solutions including expanding student numbers, introducing contextual offers and using random allocation for places above a certain grade threshold
  • Analysing the prospect of a social mobility audit in universities to act alongside the delivery of Access and Participation Plans within institutions