The expansion of universities across the UK since the middle part of the twentieth century has been one of the most profound institutional changes of this period. The shift from what has been termed an ‘elite system’ of higher education (HE) to a ‘mass system’ has had major consequences for state policies. However little is known about the social processes underpinning the relationships between mass HE and the structuring of the local social relations of civil society. Accordingly, this seminar presentation examined implications of this shift for the structuring of civil society. Inter alia, it considered the extent to which graduates continue to play distinctive roles in local civil society – and how far the graduates produced by a mass system of HE continue to provide the cement through which local civil society coheres, albeit in ways that are radically different from those that were characteristic of the elite system of HE.