The Bridge Group Fellows Network

The Bridge Group Fellows Network recognises the contribution that a number of senior academics make to our work by collaborating on research, sharing ideas and evidence at events and providing informal expertise.

The Fellows are leading thinkers on a wide range of subjects relating to social mobility and play a key role in inspiring and challenging our thinking to ensure that our work is current, relevant, and has maximum impact.

The network is coordinated by Dr Kenton Lewis MBE, who also engages on individual projects as a Research Adviser with the Bridge Group.

Dr Kenton Lewis MBE
Kenton Lewis is an educational sociologist and one of the founding members of the Bridge Group. He specialises in strategic development and policy implementation in relation to diversity, with a particular focus on access to, and progression in, the professions and the development of staff in large and complex organisations. He is an expert in the use of qualitative analysis through in-depth interviewing and data coding, and the triangulation of these data against quantitative measures.

Alongside his fellowship, Kenton consults as a Research Adviser for the Bridge Group, working on projects with the BBC, KPMG, the Civil Service among many others.

Dr Louise Ashley
Dr Louise Ashley is a lecturer in Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour at Royal Holloway, University of London and a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Professional Service Firms at Cass Business School. She specialises in researching the implementation and development of diversity and inclusion programmes in large, multinational professional service firms, with a particular focus on gender and social class. Louise has recently completed a study examining the implementation of global diversity and inclusion programmes in large international law firms. She led the team appointed by the government’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission (SMCPC) to understand non-educational barriers to the elite professions, published in 2015.

Professor Tim Blackman
Professor Tim Blackman is the Vice Chancellor of Middlesex University. Tim joined Middlesex from The Open University where he was Acting Vice-Chancellor and previously Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Scholarship and Quality. From 2004 to 2011 he was Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at Durham University, where he served as Head of the School of Applied Social Sciences, Director of the Wolfson Research Institute and Dean of the University’s campus in Stockton. Tim has served on many company and charity boards and as a UK Government advisor on neighbourhood renewal and health inequality.

Professor Vikki Boliver
Professor Vikki Boliver is Director of Research in the School of Applied Social Sciences at the University of Durham. She has previously held positions at Oxford, Harvard, and Bath Spa University. Vikki’s current research focuses on social inequalities of access to higher status universities, and on patterns and processes of social mobility across multiple generations. She recently led a research project on ‘Evaluating the use of contextual data in undergraduate admissions’.

Professor Claire Callender
Claire Callender is Professor of Higher Education Policy at Birkbeck and Deputy Director of the ESRC/HEFCE-funded Research Centre for Global Higher Education based at UCL. Her research and writing focus on student finance for higher education students. She has contributed to some of the most significant UK inquiries into student funding and presented evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees. She was a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard School of Education from 2007-2008 and was awarded an OBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list for Services to Higher Education.

Professor Callender is currently conducting research on student loan debt, examining its influence on potential higher education students’ enrolment decisions. She is about to start another study exploring the effect of student loan debt on graduates’ employment behaviour and life choices.

Dr Sam Friedman
Dr Sam Friedman is a sociologist of class and inequality at the London School of Economics. His research focuses on the cultural dimensions of contemporary class division. His most recent book, with Daniel Laurison, The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged examines social mobility in Britain’s higher professional and managerial occupations and the previously unrecognised ‘class pay gap’ within Britain’s high-status professions.

Sam is also (with Aaron Reeves) analysing the entire 120-year historical database of Who’s Who – a unique catalogue of the British elite – to examine the changing relationship between Britain’s most elite private schools and recruitment into the elite.

Professor Mary Stuart
Professor Mary Stuart is Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln. Her research interests are focussed on life histories, social mobility, higher education students and community development. She has been actively involved with the Bridge Group through her participation in the Rural and Coastal Disadvantage Working Group.

Passionate about the student experience, Mary seeks to continually drive change and improvements in the partnership with students and the academic community, working closely with the Students’ Union at Lincoln. Mary is currently a Board member of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Chair of HEFCE’s Teaching Excellence and Student Opportunity Committee, member of Universities UKs task force on Social Mobility, and Vice Chair of the Equality Challenge Unit.

Professor Anna Vignoles
Anna Vignoles is Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge. She has published widely on widening participation in higher education, social mobility, the impact of school resources on pupil achievement and on the socio-economic gap in pupil achievement. Her research interests include issues pertaining to equity in education, school choice, school efficiency and finance and the economic value of schooling. She has contributed at Bridge Group policy seminars and advised on policy issues around widening participation and attainment raising activities. She is co-author of the book Family Background & University Success.

Anna has advised numerous government departments, including the Department for Education, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and HM Treasury. She provided advice to the Browne Review of Higher Education Funding, the House of Commons Education and Skills Committee investigation of higher education funding and the House of Lords Economic Affairs Select Committee, as part of their inquiry into education and training opportunities for young people, and Lord Leitch’s Review of Skills.

Professor Paul Wakeling
Professor Paul Wakeling is a sociologist of education and Head of Department at the Department of Education, University of York. His expertise is in access to postgraduate study, including doctoral education. He has written numerous funded reports and academic articles on this topic. He has evaluated HEFCE’s £75 million Postgraduate Support Scheme and has worked with RCUK to advise on measuring socio-economic diversity among students in centres for doctoral training. Paul is currently undertaking research on pathways to professorial roles in eight subject disciplines in the UK (1965 – 2016). He has extensive knowledge of higher education datasets and significant experience in analysing these to understand equity and diversity issues within higher education and research.