Step up and make a difference with The 1 Hour Project

Sep 22, 2021 | Diversity

This new initiative is bringing universities and employers together to make a genuine difference to disadvantaged students.

Do you work for an organisation that wants to make a difference, a company that wants to walk the walk and help level the playing field? That wants to converse and provide insights to disadvantaged students as part of your social mobility?

If the answer is yes, you should consider joining many more ISE members and getting involved with the 1 Hour Project.

What is the 1 Hour Project?

At this year’s ISE Student Recruitment Conference we asked ISE members to help us in our mission to level the playing field for all students, highlighting that there are three things that will make a difference

  1. Build confidence – toolkits
  2. People vouch for them – speak up on their behalf
  3. Access to professional networks

 The 1 Hour Project incorporates all of these success factors. It is on a mission to positively impact students, who are first (along with siblings) in their family to go to university and who are from lower socioeconomic, underrepresented, and disadvantaged backgrounds typically referred to as ‘widening participation’ students in higher education. 

Why is it needed?

Recent studies demonstrate that socio-economic disadvantage continues to be the most significant driver of inequality in terms of access to and outcomes from higher education.

Eighteen-year-olds from the most advantaged groups remain 2.4 times more likely to enter university than their disadvantaged peers, and 6.3 times more likely to attend one of the most selective institutions in the UK.

If they do attend university, students from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to go into professional jobs, and if they do so, they are likely to be paid less.

Research led by Handshake UK cited that digital recruitment isn’t levelling the playing field in the way we had hoped. Employers have been reliant on existing digital networks or connections to find staff – 63% said they leaned more on online professional networks such as LinkedIn and more than half (57%) used word of mouth to find staff.

They go on to suggest that students from more affluent backgrounds, with personal connections into professional careers, are still likely to gain an advantage over other candidates. They call this issue ‘netpotism’ and believe that it has the potential to act as another obstacle to social mobility.

You can read more about the research in Handshake’s blog Guarding against netpotism in graduate recruitment

Also, imposter syndrome is rife amongst many of us irrespective of class. Sociology has many researchers analysing the link between social class and imposter syndrome (Nori et al. 2020). 

The journalist Rik Worth has written an article to support the opinion that this is heightened for those from working class, lower socio-economic backgrounds as there is a deficit in the practice of building confidence compared to those that have had access and opportunity. 

With all this in mind and the impact of the global pandemic it was time to do things differently and that’s why earlier this year we introduced The 1 Hour Project.

What’s happened so far?

During the pilot our team has been working hard to establish and spread the word about the 1 Hour Project. So far, industry experts have pledged over five thousand hours to connect with students. We can’t thank you enough – the level of commitment and energy towards our mission continues to be inspirational.

Charitable status has also been achieved and initial strategic alliances with universities and partners has enabled us to contact over 100,000 students.

Dr. Tracy Scurry, with her research expertise in examining how inequalities frame career experiences, is helping us to measure and refine the impact of the project.

Early supporters, including Cappfinity, Tessian, Meet & Engage, GTI, Vouch People, The Student Job Coach and many more, have stepped up to support the project. These collaborations give us the ability to impact more students. 

We were also delighted to be included in the Office of Students’ Graduate Employment and Skills guide.

And the fun doesn’t stop there – we are actively in conversations with representatives to launch in Ireland, South Africa and the United States.

How to get involved

Our pilot was an incredible success – the proof of concept and need for The 1 Hour Project has been proven and now it’s time to take our work to the next level and we need your help.

Our top priorities remain growing our student registrations and securing funding to sustain the future direction of the project.

If you or your organisation would like to make a difference, we would love to hear from you and discuss how a partnership may work.

With each student registration, with each industry expert registration and with each conversation that takes place we are levelling that playing field!

Thanks for your support – it means everything to us.

Bob Athwal, Claire Mason, Fiona Belk, Manny Contomanolis,  Matthew Molina-Pethers and Terence Perrin all make up The 1 Project Team.  Contact them at

If you missed the session at the ISE Student Recruitment Conference, catch up here


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