iQ and upReach launch ‘iQ Thrive Academy’

  • iQ Thrive Academy to support students from underrepresented groups to access top quality career support.
  • The Academy is focused on facilitating social mobility by offering access to employability skills, events, mentoring schemes, and internships to improve graduate employability.
  • The iQ Thrive Academy with upReach launches on 26 April 2023, when 40 students begin their three-year employability journey. 10 students will also be awarded free accommodation for the 2023/24 academic year.
iQ Thrive Academy


iQ Student Accommodation (iQ), owner of over 70 purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) properties in the UK, and upReach, an award winning undergraduate social mobility charity, are partnering to launch theiQ Thrive Academy’, a new initiative for students in the UK. The Academy is an innovative new initiative, focused on delivering enhanced employability outcomes for students – with a focus on undergraduates from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

Research shows that, despite more working-class students going to university, getting a good degree is still not enough to secure a top graduate job; a student from a working class background who achieves a first-class degree from a top university is still less likely to secure an elite job than a more privileged student who achieves a 2.2. Those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who go to university are also less likely to finish the degree, graduate with a first or upper second-class degree, or get into graduate-level employment.

In an effort to be part of the solution to this problem and bridge the progression gap seen of undergraduates from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, the iQ Thrive Academy will provide undergraduates the opportunity to access career support, tap into wider professional networks, and develop the skills they need to secure graduate jobs.  

The iQ Thrive Academy will offer a range of additional interventions to support the employment prospects for the enrolled students, including mentoring and access to networking events and workshops. The Academy will support 40 undergraduates from across the country through a three-year employability programme, and will offer accommodation bursaries to ten of the students for the 2023/24 academic year.

Programme participants will be matched with mentors to support them through their employability journey. iQ will donate £500 to upReach for every staff mentor that signs up to be part of the students’ journey through the programme, to further support the charity’s work. In addition, iQ Thrive Academy participants will also have the opportunity to take up paid summer internships within iQ to provide work experience.

iQ Thrive Academy


Matt Merrick, CEO at iQ, said: “We are committed to creating opportunities for students across the country to enable them to succeed throughout, and beyond, their studies. The iQ Thrive Academy gives us the chance to work alongside upReach to have a lasting impact for the students on the programme, offering them the opportunity to unlock the most successful starts in their careers.

We recognise there is much more that can be done to support young people in their journeys into future employment. By opening up our properties, our networks and giving our employees the opportunity to be mentors and pass on the skills they have acquired through their careers, we hope that we will be able to make a difference to the outcomes for these students.”

Nick Bent, CEO at upReach, said: "upReach are delighted to be partnering with iQ Student Accommodation to deliver the iQ Thrive Academy. This programme will provide 40 undergraduates with vital one-to-one coaching, supporting them to discover a variety of career options, and develop the necessary employability skills, networks and experiences needed to succeed in their chosen career and beyond. The partnership is a testament to our shared commitment to transform social mobility across the UK and will enable us to expand our reach and support even more undergraduates from lower socioeconomic backgrounds."


The iQ Thrive Academy builds on  wider efforts by iQ to be a force for good across a range of areas including social mobility, student wellbeing and sustainability. The partnership with upReach further enhances iQ’s network of charitable relationships with partners including Shout and Relate.