IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Q&A with Professor Gill Wyness

Gill is Professor of Economics, and Deputy Director of the Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities (CEPEO).

What is the focus of your research and what benefits do you hope your discoveries and insights will bring?

My research is focused on understanding the nature of, and drivers of socio-economic gaps in higher education access and attainment. I hope that I can improve the life chances of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds by improving their chances of entering university and doing well.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

Becoming deputy director of the Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities, and therefore being at the heart of a centre that is dedicated to identifying and reducing structural barriers to opportunity.

What's the most important thing you've learned from your students about the subject you teach?
That young people are highly intelligent and very engaged in policy. But that my sense of humour needs tweaking!

I did my PhD at IOE so I was aware of the rigorous quantitative research being carried out here, and that there was a strong team of quantitative social scientists looking at education policy."

How has being in London benefited your work?

I have benefitted from the London location in terms of access to Westminster and proximity to many organisations dedicated to improving opportunities for disadvantaged students such as the Sutton Trust, bodies in the higher education sector such as Universities UK, and high quality research centres at the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Centre for Economic Performance at LSE.

What other subjects outside of your area of specialism interest you?

Space science!

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I used to live in a community of homeless people and volunteers. 

What do you most enjoy about your position and why?

That I can use the skills I have acquired in my degree, MSc and PhD to help improve policy and society.

Is there anything else you would like to add about your experiences at UCL?

They have some very good art in the Housman room (e.g. Stanley Spencer).