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School of Education

Professor Anna Mountford-Zimdars   (nee Zimdars )

Professor Anna Mountford-Zimdars (nee Zimdars )

Professor of Education / Director of the Centre for Social Mobility


 +44 (0) 1392 724959

 North Cloisters NC127


North Cloisters, University of Exeter, St Luke's Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter, EX1 2LU, UK


Anna is a PFHEA, Professor of Education and Joint Founder and Director of the Centre for Social Mobility.

Congratulations to my student Joanna Merrett for winning the Hutton Prize 2022

I direct the academic strand of the Centre for Social Mobility at the University of Exeter. I was elected to the University of Exeter Senate in August 2020 and elected as govenor and trustee of the Society for Research into Higher Education from January 2022; I am academic advisor to the Social Mobility Commission (2022-2023) and TASO (2020-ongoing). 

I served for two years (2018-2019) as a TEF national panel Widening Participation (WP) Expert and I am serving on the Social Sciences Panel for the REF pilot in Slovakia (2022). I have been an invited expert to the Milburn Commission on Social Mobility and the UUK social Mobility academic reference group (both 2016) and participated in an OfS working group for the WP TEF metrics.

I am joint editor in chief of Research Papers in Education (2022-), where I previously served as associate editor (2019-2022), I co-edited Higher Education Review (2015-2018) and I served on the editorial board member for Active Learning in Higher Education (2016-2022) and Teaching in Higher Education, and am serving on the reviewer panel of Research in Postcompulsory Education (2020- )and the Journal for the Study of Postsecondary and Tertiary Education. I am part of the University of Michigan Diversity Scholar Network.


My work uses theoretical, quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods research to investigate access to and progression within higher education.

I am also interested in broader issues of inequality, social reproduction and skills development as well as interventions that work in supporting individuals out of cycles of disadvantage. I am currently working on elective home education and equity issues for this group heightened by policy making during the pandemic. 

My work has provided me with opportunities to work closely on admissions to the University of Oxford, entry into the legal Bar (pupillage), the causes of differences in degree attainment across English higher education and the potential for using contextualised admissions as a way to identify talent at the university gate. 

My appointment as first Centre Director of a new research stream at the University of Exeter was with a remit to support evidence and practice around widening participation within Exeter as well as undertaking broader research to support national and international academic discussions and policy developments in the field of widening participation and social mobility research.   

I am a REF-returned researcher having authored more than 50 national and international conference presentations, 30 peer-reviewed articles, five book-chapter, over a dozen research reportsand as well as one monograph, two edited books and two edited peer-reviewed journal special issues. I have led an impact case-study with colleagues from the Centre for Social Mobility for the REF2021. 

My monograph comparing university admissions in the United States and England came out in paperback in September 2017 and has been recognised through invited presentations in Washington, Utrecht and the Medical Admissions Council. My two most recent articles have focused on the experience of disadvantaged UK students studying at elite US universities using a Bourdieusian lens and looking at the disciplinary background of Pro-Vice Chancellors for Learning and Teaching in UK universities

My research has been funded by OfS and its predecessors HEFCE and OFFA, the EU, ESRC, Nuffield Foundation, British Academy, SRHE, CRAC, SEDA, Social Mobility Commission, Fair Education Alliance, (then) HEA, (then) SPA, institutions (Nuffield College Oxford, King’s College London, Manchester University, University of Exeter) and charities.

I am an experienced and effective Principal and Co-investigator in the field of HE entry and progression as illustrated by these select recent projects:

(1) 2014-2015: HEFCE, Differential Outcomes in Higher Education, PI  with Joanne Moore, Dr Steven Jones, Dr John Sanders, Louise Higham, Dr Duna Sabri (£61,000)

(2) 2015 – 2016, OFFA, The Effect of student support , Co-I , Prof Colin McCaig (PI), Dr Neil Harrison (£47,000)

(3) January –Mary 2018, Fair Education Alliance, Updating the review of Contextual Admissions, PI with Joanne Moore and Louise Higham (£12,000)

(4) 08.2017 – 03.2019 Evaluating Outreach Interventions, OfS, PI with Joanne Moore, Dr Pallavi Banerjee, Prof Debra Myhill (£102,000)

(5) July 2019 - August 2021 Building NCOP capabilities, OfS, PI with Julian Crockford, Anand Shukla (Brightside), Colin McCaig, Neil Harrison, Joanne Moore, Greg Brown (£190,000)


I was programme director for the Academic Apprenticeship programme (APP) for newer academics at the Universtiy of Exeter (2018-2021),  I continue to teach on this programme as well as contributing to other graduate programmes within the School of Education. 

During my directorship, the APP team has successfully supported the first 'Apprentice' nationwide to pass the research pathway Endpoint Assessment.

Prospective Students

I welcome enquiries from motivated students. I supervise on the intercalated MA for medical students as well as MA programmes in the Graduate School of Education and have also supervised on the MA Computing. I welcome PhD students with interests in Education, Sociology and both quantitative and qualitative methods.  If you want to explore a proposal within my areas of expertise and would like to study at the University of Exeter, please get in touch.  


BA (Hons, Kent, 2001) - First;  MSc (Oxon, 2002) - Distinction;  DPhil (Oxon, 2007)

Anna is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA) and ASPIRE.  


Anna joined the Universitiy of Exeter after researching Higher Education inequality at King's College London (2011-2017), she undertook her post-doctoral research at the University of Manchester (2007-2011) where she was part of the Institute for Social Change and a visiting scholar with Professor Robert Putnam at the Harvard Kennedy School (2009-2010). During her doctoral studies with Professor Anthony Heath at the University of Oxford (2004-2007), she also spent time at the New York University Steinhardt School of Education (2006) visting Professor Mitchell Stevens. Anna is a dual German-British national and grew up in the Hanseatic City of Hamburg and still misses watching huge container vessels arriving in a busy harbour. 

Research group links

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Research interests

opportunities to enhance equality across education

higher education access, progress, and success

social mobility 

elective home education 

teaching excellence

teaching for inclusion 

access to professions - law, medicine, academia 

policy research - what works

Research projects

January –Mary 2018

Fair Education Alliance, £12,000, PI with Joanne Moore and Louise Higham, Updating the review of Contextual Admissions

August 2017 – Dec 2018

Evaluating Outreach interventions, OFFA, £70,000, PI with Debra Myhill, Pallavi Banjeree, Joanne Moore

April 2017

Evaluating TEF2 submission, HEA, co-investigator - Joanne Moore, John Sanders, Louise Higham, Anna Mountford-Zimdars, Steve Jones

March 2017 – March 2019

External examining HEA, £30,000, co-investigator - Joanne Moore, John Sanders, Anna Mountford-Zimdars

January 2017 -

HEFCE Raising Awareness, Raising Aspiration: £499,999

Samul Dent, Mary McKeever, Alison Stenton, Anna Mountford-Zimdars

January 2017 – January 2019

EU Erasmus Marie Curie individual  Fellowship scheme £ 135,000 total, Welcoming students; The first year experience

German Fernandez Vavrik, Anna Mountford-Zimdars (named supervisor on Fellowship)

June 2016 – Dec 2016

British Academy - Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences and Humanities  £20,000 PI, co-investigators: Joanne Moore, John Sanders, Frederico Matos

2016 – 2017

SEDA, £1,000, Principal Investigator with Claire Gordon co-investigator

2016 – 2016

Social Mobility Commission, Access to Science, led by ARC network, £12,500, co-investigator

2016 – 2017

King’s College Teaching and Learning fund – Peer-Assessment in War Studies, £3,000  led by Dr Matt Moran, co-investigator

2015 – 2016

OFFA, effect of student support, £47,000, led by Sheffield Hallam, co-investigator

2015 – 2015

HEA, postgraduate tender, £59,910, led by CRAC, co-Investigator


HEFCE award, student progression in Higher Education, Principal Investigator (£61,000) with Joanne Moore, John Sander, Steven Jones and Duna Sabri


UCAS, ‘the future of SPA’, grant, Co-investigator, with Louise Higham (PI) and Joanne Moore (£21,000)


Princeton University and King’s College London, publication grant for edited book with the University of Chicago Press ($2,600)


HEFCE, Postgraduate Bursary grant, (£500,000), Co-I with PI Kim Wolff, matched funding of £600,000 from King’s secured


SPA, ‘investigating the use of contextual data in admissions’, Co-I with ARC network, (£ 29,050)


School of Social Sciences and Public Policy, Research Grant, Co-I with Sharon Gewritz, Alan, Cribb and Tania de Croix, (£3,000)

2012 – 2014

Widening Participation evaluation grant, Co-I with Becky Francis (£75,000)


Spencer Foundation, Extended special Issue Type Setting Grant, Co-I with David Post and Daniel Sabbagh, ($7,000)

2012 – 2013

SRHE annual newer researcher prize, PI (£3,000)

2012 – 2013

Higher Education Academy, Teaching Development Grant, PI (£5,298)

2010 – 2011

Research seed funding, School of Social Sciences, PI (£3,000), + Co-I with Julian Skyrme on cofounding grant from the Admissions Office (£3,000)

2009 – 2010

Nuffield Foundation Access to Justice Small Grant PI (£3,754), Grant number SGS/37476


Visiting scholar Grant, Harvard and Manchester Universities, PI (£7,000)

2008 – 2010

Thomas Pocklington Trust, Research Grant, Co-PI with James Nazroo (£10,000)


BA Science Communication Competition, national Finalist, PI (£450).


ESRC Overseas Research Grant, PI (£8,046)

2004 – 2007

ESRC doctoral studentship, competition award (~£ 55,000)


University of Oxford grant, Research Award, Postgraduate Entry, Co-I (£12,000)

2003 – 2006

HEFCE, Widening Participation grant, Co-I (£80,000)

Research networks

Society for Research into Higher Education 

Principal Fellow of Advance HE


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Harrison N, Mountford-Zimdars A (eds)(2017). Access to Higher Education: Theoretical perspectives and contemporary challenges., Routledge.
Mountford-Zimdars A (2016). Can holistic and contextualised admission (HaCA) widen access at highly selective universities?: Experiences from England and the United States.
Zimdars AM (2016). Meritocracy and the University: Selective Admission in England and the United States. London, Bloomsbury Publishing. Abstract.
Mountford-Zimdars A, Post D, Sabbagh D (2015). Fair Access to Higher Education Global Perspectives. Abstract.
Mountford-Zimdars A, Post D, Sabbagh D (2014). Fair Access to Higher Education., University of Chicago Press.

Journal articles

Eguigurem Wray O, Pollard SAM, Mountford-Zimdars A (In Press). An investigation into the contextual admissions information available at UK medical schools’ websites: what are the opportunities for enhancement?. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education
Mountford-Zimdars A, Hayes L (In Press). Changing a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice to a postgraduate apprenticeship at one English university: impacts for academic identities and staff development practices. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education
Mountford-Zimdars AK, Tampubolon G (In Press). Ethnic Diversity and European's Generalised Trust: How Inclusive Immigration Policy can Aid a Positive Association. Sociological Research Online
Mountford-Zimdars A, Flood J (In Press). The Relative Weight of Subject Knowledge and Type of University Attended: a Comparison of Law Higher Education in England and Germany. SSRN Electronic Journal
Mountford-Zimdars A, Grim J (In Press). The power of professors and professionals” for the journal Professions and professionalism. Professions and Professionalism
Mountford-Zimdars AK, Moore J, Higham L (In Press). What is the current state of debate around the use of contextualised admissions for undergraduate admissions? a review of the current stakeholder perspective. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education
Mountford-Zimdars A, Gaulter J, Harrison N (2024). Helicopter mobility: Changing habitus without challenging structural inequalities, experiences of an international elite education programme. BRITISH EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH JOURNAL, 50(2), 732-752.  Author URL.
Casey C, Mountford‐Zimdars A (2024). Legal apprenticeships: Enhancing capabilities, wellbeing, and diversity in the profession?. British Educational Research Journal
Casey C, Mountford-Zimdars A, Hancock S (2024). Player, Purist, Pragmatist: a comparison of employability strategies in access to the solicitors’ profession via alternative degree pathways. Studies in Higher Education, ahead-of-print(ahead-of-print), 1-12.
Playford C, Mountford-Zimdars A, Benham-Clarke S (2023). Coast and City, it Matters Where you Live: How Geography Shapes Progression to Higher Education in England. Social Sciences, 12(11), 1-19. Abstract.
Jones B, Peri-Rotem N, Mountford-Zimdars A (2023). Geographic opportunities for assisted reproduction: a study of regional variations in access to fertility treatment in England. Human Fertility Abstract.
Mountford-Zimdars A, Grim JK (2023). The Power of Professors and Professionals: How Professions Shape Organizational Systems in Elite University Admissions. Professions and Professionalism, 12(3).
Flanagan R, Mountford-Zimdars A, Channon M (2022). #Mypathtolaw: understanding access to the legal profession through a ricoeurian analysis. Research in Post-Compulsory Education, 27(3), 478-499. Abstract.
Clements N, Davies S, Mountford-Zimdars A (2022). How professionalisation of outreach practitioners could improve the quality of evaluation and evidence: a proposal. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education, 26(2), 63-68. Abstract.
Strawbridge R, Mountford-Zimdars A, Fernandes C, Tognin S, Koutsantoni K, Hodgman C, Williams BP, Kravariti E, Komarraju M, Lea SJ, et al (2022). Learning to teach and teaching to learn: a small-group tutorial model enhances postgraduate tutors’ and tutees’ academic experience. International Journal of Educational Research Open, 3
Koutsouris G, Mountford-Zimdars A, Dingwall K (2021). The ‘ideal’ higher education student: understanding the hidden curriculum to enable institutional change. Research in Post-Compulsory Education
Murray C, Mountford-Zimdars A, Mattick K (2021). Which disadvantaged students study medicine? Analysis of an English outreach scheme. Health Science Reports
Mountford-Zimdars A, Moore J, Shiner R (2020). Enhancing Widening Participation Evaluation through the development of a self-assessment tool for practitioners: Learning from the OfS project Standards of Evaluation Practice (Phase 2) 2017-2019. Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 22(2), 44-66. Abstract.
Mountford-Zimdars A, Moore J (2020). Identifying merit and potential beyond grades: Opportunities and challenges in using contextual data in undergraduate admissions at nine highly selective English universities. Oxford Review of Education
Barg K, Benham-Clarke S, Mountford-Zimdars A (2020). Investigating the Imagination of Possible and ‘Like-to-Avoid’ Selves among Higher Education Students from Different Socioeconomic Backgrounds at a Selective English University. Social Science
Grim J, Moore-Vissing Q, Mountford-Zimdars AK (2019). A comparative study of the factors shaping postsecondary aspirations for low-income students in greater Boston and greater London. British Journal of Sociology of Education
Kenedi G, Mountford-Zimdars A (2018). Does educational expertise matter for PVCs education? a UK study of PVCs’ educational background and skills. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 40(3), 193-207. Abstract.
Gaulter J, Mountford-Zimdars A (2018). The power of ‘unrecognizable habitus’: inclusion and exclusion among 10 British low-socio-economic status students abroad. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 39(6), 876-890. Abstract.
Mountford-Zimdars A (2018). Who gets in?: strategies for fair and effective college admissions. BRITISH JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL STUDIES, 66(2), 276-278.  Author URL.
Brown K, Mountford-Zimdars A (2017). Exploring academic hiring and life in humanities and social sciences at an English research university through a PhD students-as-partners project. Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, 8(1), 15-29. Abstract.
Mountford-Zimdars A, Sanders J, Moore J, Sabri D, Jones S, Higham L (2017). What can universities do to support all their students to progress successfully throughout their time at university?. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education, 21(2-3), 101-110. Abstract.
Mountford-Zimdars A, Moore J, Graham J (2016). Is contextualised admission the answer to the access challenge?. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education, 20(4), 143-150. Abstract.
Singh S, Mountford-Zimdars A (2016). Policy enactment in Widening Participation: enablers and barriers in a comparative English and Australian study. Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 18(2), 22-49.
Mountford-Zimdars A (2015). Contest and adjustment sponsorship in the selection of elites: Re-visiting Turner’s mobility modes for England through an analysis of undergraduate admissions at the University of Oxford. Sociologie, 6(2), 157-157.
Clark S, Mountford-Zimdars A, Francis B (2015). Risk, choice and social disadvantage: Young people’s decision-making in a marketised higher education system. Sociological Research Online, 20(3). Abstract.
Heath A, Sullivan A, Boliver V, Zimdars A (2013). Education under New Labour, 1997-2010. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 29(1), 227-247.
Mountford-Zimdars A, Sabbagh D (2013). Fair access to higher education: a comparative perspective. Comparative Education Review, 57(3 SUPPL), 359-368.
Mountford-Zimdars A, Jones S, Sullivan A, Heath A (2013). Framing higher education: questions and responses in the British Social Attitudes survey, 1983-2010. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 34(5-6), 792-811. Abstract.
Ogg T, Zimdars A, Heath A (2013). Schooling effects on degree performance: a comparison of the predictive validity of aptitude testing and secondary school grades at Oxford University. British Educational Research Journal, 35(5), 781-807. Abstract.
Mellanby J, Zimdars A, Cortina-Borja M (2013). Sex differences in degree performance at the University of Oxford. Learning and Individual Differences, 26, 103-111.
Zimdars A, Nazroo J, Gjonça E (2012). The circumstances of older people in England with self-reported visual impairment: a secondary analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). British Journal of Visual Impairment, 30(1), 22-30. Abstract.
Zimdars AK (2011). The Competition for Pupillages at the Bar of England and Wales (2000–2004)<sup>1</sup>. Journal of Law and Society, 38(4), 575-603. Abstract.
Andersen R, Zimdars A (2010). Class, education and extreme party support in Germany, 1991–98. German Politics, 12(2), 1-23.
Zimdars A (2010). Fairness and undergraduate admission: a qualitative exploration of admissions choices at the University of Oxford. Oxford Review of Education, 36(3), 307-323.
Zimdars A (2010). The profile of pupil barristers at the Bar of England and Wales 2004–2008. International Journal of the Legal Profession, 17(2), 117-134.
Sullivan A, Zimdars A, Heath A (2010). The social structure of the 14–16 curriculum in England. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 20(1), 5-21.
Mellanby J, Zimdars A (2010). Trait anxiety and final degree performance at the University of Oxford. Higher Education, 61(4), 357-370.
Zimdars A, Sullivan A, Heath A (2009). Elite Higher Education Admissions in the Arts and Sciences: is Cultural Capital the Key?. Sociology, 43(4), 648-666. Abstract.
Zimdars AK (2006). Testing the spill-over hypothesis: meritocracy in enrolment in postgraduate education. Higher Education, 54(1), 1-19.


Mountford-Zimdars A, Moore J (2023). Addressing Awarding Gaps through Assessment Design. In Evans C, Waring M (Eds.) Research Handbook on Innovations in Assessment and Feedback in Higher Education, Elgar publishing.
Moore J, Mountford-Zimdars A (2023). Addressing Student Differential Learning Outcomes through Assessment Design. In  (Ed) Research Handbook on Innovations in Assessment and Feedback in Higher Education. Abstract.
Dent S, Mountford-Zimdars A, Burke C (2022). Conclusion: Top Tips for Putting Theory of Change into Practice. In  (Ed) Theory of Change, Emerald, 163-172.
Harrison N (2022). How do we know What we think we Know – and Are We Right? Five New Questions about Research, Practice and Policy on Widening Access to Higher Education. In Dent S, Mountford-Zimdars A, Burke C (Eds.) Theory of Change: Debates and Applications to Access and Participation in Higher Education, Emerald Group Publishing.
Dent S, Mountford-Zimdars A, Burke C (2022). Introduction. In  (Ed) Theory of Change, Emerald, 1-8.
Mountford-Zimdars A, Bastedo M (2022). Moving towards more holistic assessment. In  (Ed) Routledge Handbook of the Sociology of Higher Education, Taylor & Francis, 200-212.
Mountford-Zimdars A, Bastedo M (2022). Moving towards more holistic assessment: Selective admissions in the US and England at the brink of the 2020s. In  (Ed) Routledge Handbook of the Sociology of Higher Education, 200-212.
Moore J, Cotterill V, Davey A, Mountford-Zimdars A (2022). Using Theory of Change to Enhance Evaluation and Evidence. In  (Ed) Theory of Change, Emerald, 57-79.
Sanders J, Moore J, Mountford-Zimdars A (2020). Elusive and Elastic, and ‘Incorrigibly Plural’: Definitions and Conceptualisations of Teaching Excellence. In  (Ed) Challenging the Teaching Excellence Framework, Emerald, 11-46.
Sanders J, Moore J, Mountford-Zimdars A (2020). Operationalising Teaching Excellence in Higher Education: from ‘Sheep-dipping’ to ‘Virtuous Practice’. In  (Ed) Challenging the Teaching Excellence Framework, Emerald, 47-94.
Mountford-Zimdars A (2019). Admissions. In Amey M, David M (Eds.) SAGE Encyclopedia of Higher Education.
Mountford-Zimdars AK (2019). The practical and ethical underpinnings of higher education access policies. In Delisle J, Usher A (Eds.) International Perspectives in Higher Education, Harvard Education Press.
Mountford-Zimdars AK, Teulon P (2014). AABe or not to AABe: a very English problem. In  (Ed) International Perspectives on Higher Education Admission Policy a Reader, Peter Lang Gmbh, Internationaler Verlag Der Wissenschaften. Abstract.
Mountford-Zimdars A (2014). Are admissions models for undergraduate study converging among highly selective universities in England and the US?. In  (Ed) Higher Education in the UK and the US: Converging University Models in a Global Academic World?, 91-112.
Mountford-Zimdars AK (2014). Who is the best? Selecting undergraduates in competitive admissions contexts. In  (Ed) International Perspectives on Higher Education Admission Policy a Reader, Peter Lang Gmbh, Internationaler Verlag Der Wissenschaften. Abstract.
Mountford-Zimdars AK, Sullivan A, Heath A (2012). Higher Education: Attitudes towards funding, fees and opportunities. In  (Ed) British Social Attitudes 28, SAGE Publications Limited. Abstract.
Mountford-Zimdars AK, Sullivan A, Heath A (2009). Cultural Capital and Admissions to Oxford. In  (Ed) Quantifying Theory: Pierre Bourdieu, Springer Science & Business Media. Abstract.
Zimdars A, Sullivan A, Heath AF (2009). Cultural capital and access to highly selective education: the case of admission to Oxford. In  (Ed) Quantifying Theory: Pierre Bourdieu, 117-128. Abstract.
Mountford-Zimdars AK (2008). Ethnic minority applicants to Oxford: the challenges of achieving social justice at the university Gate. In Hallden K, Le Grand, Hellgren (Eds.) Ethnicity, equality and Justice: Beyond the paradigms of recognition and redistribution, Cambridge Scholar Press.




Mountford-Zimdars AK, Moore J, Higham L, Sanders J, Jones S, Candarli D (2017). Analysis of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF2) provider submissions. HEA, file:///C:/Users/k1077004/Downloads/TEF2%20Provider%20Submissions%20Review_2.pdf.
Moore J, Higham L (2016). Access to Science Careers. Social Mobility Commission.
Mountford-Zimdars AK, Sanders J, Moore J (2016). Teaching Excellence in the Humanities and Social Sciences., British Academy.
Mountford-Zimdars AK, sanders J, jones S, sabri D, moore J (2015). Causes of Differences in Student Outcomes, Higher Education Funding Council for England. HEFCE. Abstract.
Moore J, Wiggans J (2013). Contextualised admissions: Examining the Evidence. Supporting Professionalism in Admissions.
Mountford-Zimdars AK (2010). Selection into Pupillage. Bar Council.
Nazroo J (2010). Social inclusion, social circumstances and the quality of life of visually impaired older people. Thomas Pocklington Trust.
Atkinson T (2004). The demographic profile of UK graduate students admitted to the University of. Oxford. University of Oxford.

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External Engagement and Impact

Awards and Honours

2022: Appointed international Expert, Slovakian REF pilot 

2022: Advisor, Social Mobility Commission 

2019: Transforming Access and Student Outcomes (TASO) memebr of academic advisory group 

2019: Teaching Excellence Framework Panel Member, Expert on Widening Participation

2018 Teaching Excellence Framework Panel Member, Expert on Widening Participation

2018: Reviewer for the Dutch National Research Council

2017: Reviewer for the HEA National Teaching Fellowship Scheme

June 2016: Invited Expert to Milburn Commission on Social Mobility

Jan 2016: Member of Academic Reference group, UUK social mobility review

2015: Reviewer for the Portugues National Research Council

2015: Winner of the BERA best poster prize 2015

2015: Fellow of the Staff and Educational Development Association 

Nov 2014: Academic Associate of the Higher Education Academy

2013-2016 Member of the BERA publication committee; lead on scoping review of ethical guidance

May 2013: Invited Expert, HEFCE / OFFA round-table on the national strategy for Widening Participation

2014: Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy 

2012 – 13: Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, Quality Code (Chapter B2) Recruitment and Admission, invited expert writer and member of the Steering Group

2012: Department for Business, Information and Skills forecasting unit, ‘Future drivers of social mobility, Invited expert participant

2012: International Conference on International Higher Education, Member of Scientific programme Committee

2011: Commission on Social Mobility, Alan Milburn Round-table, London, Invited Expert

External Examiner Positions

2022: PhD External Examiner, University of Northumbria

2022: PhD External Examiner, Cardiff University 

2019: PhD External Examiner, University of Kent at Canterbury 

2016  EdD External Examiner: University of Liverpool

2016: External Examiner (critical friend), professional accreditation of academics against the SEDA framework, University of Oxford

2015-sept 2018 External Examiner for the Postgraduate Diploma and Certificate, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland

2014-Sept 2018 External Examiner for the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, University of Manchester

Evidence of impact on policy and professional practice


2012     Trinity College Dublin, widening participation in admissions, invited international keynote

8.10. 2012: Milburn report on Higher education and social mobility, extensive references to the ‘Fair Admissions Conference’ in Manchester 2011 that I organised and chaired

08.03.2011: House of Commons - Hansard Debates, reference to the publication of Ogg, Zimdars and Heath

Date Title Details Location

2. May 2019

Is the TEF a useful tool for Widening Participation?

Royal Holloway

Invited Keynote learning and teaching conference

Surrey, England

28 January 2019

Using contextual data in university admissions

Queen Mary University invited seminar speaker

London, England

18. Sept 2018

The Standards of Evidence in Evaluation: a new framework from OfS commissioned research

SRHE – NERUPI workshop, invited speaker

London, England

25 January 2018

Admitting students to selective courses in the United States and England

Invited Keynote


Utrecht, Netherlands

8 Dec 2017

Admitting students to selective courses in the United States and England

Invited Keynote


London, England

August 2017

The global access challenge and national responses

International Higher Education Policy Institute, Invited speaker

Washington, USA

July 2017

Teaching Excellence: Findings from British Academy commissioned research

HEA conference

Manchester, UK

May 2017

The Causes of differences in student progression

Invited Speaker UCL WP department

London, UK


Invited Keynote: how to get an academic job

Annual Graduate Student Conference, Liverpool John Moore’s University 

Liverpool, England


Invited speaker:  How to get an academic job – insights from an HEA-funded student-partnership project

KCL, Graduate school / Career’s service PhD development workshop

London, England


Invited presentation with Robin Mellors-Bourne (project lead) and Paul Wakeling: Postgraduate Transitions in Higher Education

HEA webinar

Webinar hosted at HEA, York, England


Invited speaker: Causes of differences in student progression in Higher Education and the link to WP

SRHE WP network: workshop

Sheffield, England


Invited speaker:  Causes of differences in student progression in Higher Education

Public Policy Exchange

London, England


Invited speaker: How to get an academic job

Queen Mary University Professional Development Seminar, Graduate School

London, England


Invited keynote: Causes of differences in student progression in Higher Education

HEFCE sector-wide national dissemination workshop

London, England

May 2016

Invited Speaker: Springboard Women’s development programme: Insights from the inside


King’s College, UK


Invited speaker: Causes of differences in student progression in Higher Education: What can educational developers do?

Departmental Seminar, EdD unit

Liverpool, England


Invited speaker: Causes of differences in student progression in Higher Education

UCL Race Equality Group

London, England


Invited contributor: WP in the UK and at King’s College

Sciences Po WP and inclusion group

Science Po, Paris, France


Invited round-table member

HEFCE advisory roundtable on social capital

London, England 

May 2015

Invited Speaker:  Adjustment Sponsorship in Higher Education

Department of Education

York, England

April 2015

Invited Workshop: Supporting diversity competences through staff development, workshop leader

Equality challenge Unit and HEA joint conference

Edinburgh, Scotland, 


Invited speaker: Skills for teaching and research: navigating the journey from postgraduate students to academic, co=presented with student researcher Katie Brown

HEA student transition conference



Widening Participation in Irish Higher education: a view from the outside 

Invited keynote,

Undergraduate Admissions for the 21st Century, Trinity College

Dublin, Ireland


Access to selective higher education and beyond: Oxford and the legal Bar

Geary Centre, Dublin,

invited speaker

Dublin, Ireland


Diversity in the Legal Profession - the legal Bar

Invited Keynote: Diversity in the Legal Profession workshop

London, UK

June 2010

Preliminary Findings 2: re: Neuberger recommendation 52

Invited speaker: Neuberger Monitoring and Implementation Group, Bar Council, invited speaker

London, UK


Some observations on meritocracy and the Law: the profile of pupil barristers at the Bar of England and Wales (2004 – 2008)

American Bar Foundation seminar series

Invited speaker

Chicago, USA


Merit Selection in elite higher education? A mixed methods case study  of the University of Oxford

Kennedy School, Saguaro Seminar Series

Invited speaker

Harvard, USA


Diversity in the profession: The legal Bar

ESRC seminar series,

invited keynote

Leeds, UK

March 2009

Preliminary Findings 1: re: Neuberger recommendation 52

Neuberger Monitoring and Implementation Group Bar Council, invited speaker

London, UK


The Challenges to Meritocracy: A Study of Student Admission and Progression at the University of Oxford (UK)

Centre for Studies in Higher Education, Berkeley, invited speaker

Berkeley, USA

Journal and book series Editorships and Editorial board membership

Joint Editor in Chief, Research Papers in Education (2022- ongoing)

Associate Editor of Research Papers in Education (2019-2022)

Joint Editor of Higher Education Review (2015-2018)

Editorial board membership of Teaching in Higher Education (2016-2021)

Editorial board membership of Active Learning in Higher Education (2016-2021)

Past editorial board membership of Sociological Research Online

Joint editor of a guest special issue in Comparative Education Review

Reviewing activity including: British Journal of Sociology; Sociology; Social Forces; Journal of Law and Society; UCAS Admissions Research Journal; Journal of Education Policy; Higher Education Research Network Journal; Comparative Educational Review, Educational Review; Educational Research Journal; Ethnic and Racial Studies; Sociological Research Online; European Sociological Review; The Sociological Quarterly; SRHE Conference abstracts; ESRC grant application

Media Coverage

Jack Grove (4. September 2014) Graduates ‘more likely’ to favour smaller higher education pool, Times Higher Education

Skyrme, Julian (Head of Corporate Responsibility, University of Manchester) 5 questions on contextual data and the race for admission, UUK Blog, 6.08.2013

United Academics (12 September 2012) Interview about Ethnic Diversity and Trust with United Academics,

Radior Ireland – Newstalk: Breakfast with Chris Donoghue, contributor on university admission, May 17 2012

Legal Futures (2012) Age a barrier for breaking into the Bar says research, published 5 January 2012

Barrister Magazine (2012) Age barrier to making the Bar, news bulletin, published 5 January 2012.

Ellender, Pete (2011). Pull the ladder up: a third of graduates want fewer uni places. Times Higher Education. 11 December 2011.

Willets, D (Minister of State for Universities and Science) Ron Dearing Lecture: Universities and Social Mobility, 17 February 2011, Nottingham University.  

Freud, Amy, The Story behind getting your PhD, STEPS newsletter, University of Manchester, December 2010.

Smith, Steve Hard facts show that contextual effects are right and fitting, Times Higher, 25/03/2010

Grimston, Jack, Oxford tutors downgrade private pupils, Sunday Times, 23/08/2009, p. 6.

Shepherd, Jessica, Oxford University admissions favour men, study finds, Guardian 19/08/2009.

Taylor, Laurie, ‘Thinking allowed’ BBC Radio 4, 19/08/2009  with my collaborator Dr Alice Sullivan

Clark, Laura, ‘Oxford dons accused of bias against girls’, The Daily Mail, 16/03/2005

Heath, Anthony, ’The Oxford Admissions Study’. Oxford Magazine, 15/03/2005.

Henry, Julie, ‘Oxford University admits it at last: it does discriminate against students from independent schools’, Daily Telegraph, 5/12/2004

Major awards, Prizes and Honorary degrees, including election to national and international learned societies

Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy     

Fellow of Staff and Educational Development Association

Winner of the BERA best poster prize 2015

Member of the BERA publication committee 2013-2016, lead on scoping review of ethical guidance

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I directed the MA level / Level 7 Academic Professional Programme, previously known as PCAP from 2018-2021 and led the MA level / Level 7 module 'The contemporary Academic in Context'.

I supervise MA level students in the Graduate School of Education, the Medical School and in Computing. My PhD students are based in the Graduate School of Education and I welcome enquiries from interested potential MA and doctoral candidates. 



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Supervision / Group

Research Fellows

  • Carolyn Murray
  • Luke Graham

Postgraduate researchers

  • Salim Al Maqbali
  • Luke Graham Second Supervisor
  • Demelza Green
  • Isabel Hallam
  • Yating Yang

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