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Announcements, policies and reports relating to and affecting higher education

Widening Participation in Higher Education

(Published: July 2020)

The impact of interventions for widening access to higher education

By David Robinson (Director, Post-16 and Skills) and Viola Salvestrini (Senior Researcher), Education Policy Institute

(Published: January 2020)

Using Free School Meals data in education research: potential and pitfalls

By Karina Berzins, Research Fellow, Continuum, University of East London

(Published: Feb 2019)

Contextual admissions: Promoting fairness and rethinking merit

(Published: May 2019)

Using contextualised admissions to widen access to higher education: a guide to the evidence base 

Vikki Boliver, Stephen Gorard and Nadia Siddiqui

Escape of the wealthy: The unfairness of the English student finance system

Dr Muhammad Rakib Ehsan, David Kingman.

(Published: January 2019)

Understanding and overcoming the challenges of ethnicity targeting

(Published: February 2019)

Principles to guide higher education providers on improving care leavers access and participation in HE

The Impact of Selective Secondary Education on Progression to Higher Education

Iain Mansfield, HEPI Occasional Paper 19.

(Published: January 2019)

Access to grammar schools by socio-economic status

Simon Burgess, Claire Crawford, Lindsey MacMillan

(Added: January 2019)

Post-qualification application: a student-centred model for higher education admissions in England, Northern Ireland and Wales,

Dr. Graeme Atherton, UCU report.

(Published: January 2019)

Access to Advantage: The influence of schools and place on admissions to top universities

Authored by Sutton Trust Research Fellow, Rebecca Montacute, the Access to Advantage report uses UCAS data to analyse university acceptance rates for the 2015-2017 cohorts by school type and region, and discusses what schools and universities can do to help close the gap in Higher Education participation rates in England.

(Published: December 2018)

Improving access to elite universities remains slow

Elite universities are all but failing to increase access for disadvantaged students, according to a study published by the public services think tank, Reform.

(Published: November 2018)

OfS National Collaborative Outreach Programme: The first year

This is the first annual report on the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP). It sets out key information on what the programme does, why it is needed and what it has delivered in its first year.

PDF icon NCOP Annual Report

(Published: May 2018)

Reaching parts of society universities have missed: A manifesto for the new Director of Fair Access and Participation

This HEPI report contains recommendations for the new Director of Fair Access and Participation from different stakeholder groups – some of which are working within universities to advance the widening participation agenda, while others are sharing their experiences from other sectors or as external observers.

PDF icon HEPI Report

(Published: May 2018)

Differences in student outcomes: The effect of student characteristics

This report looks at the employment outcomes of the 2015-16 graduates and the degree outcomes of the 2016-17 UK-domiciled first degree graduates from HEFCE-funded higher education institutions (excluding further education colleges). It considers how outcomes differ according to various student characteristics measured in terms of class of degree awarded and outcome six months after graduation. It also considers the changes that have taken place since the previous reports on 2013-14 graduates.

(Published: March 2018)

Further and Higher Progression for Service Children

This research project, led by The University of Winchester in partnership with the Ministry of Defence, sought to improve understanding of the factors that help or hinder service children’s educational progression, so that future work is well targeted and achieves better outcomes. Read the Research Paper.

(Added: April 2018)

Value for money: the student perspective

Research commissioned by the Office for Students indicates that “almost a quarter of students don’t feel they were informed about how much everything would cost as a student, with the main factors cited the costs of accommodation, books and paying for extracurricular activities - and it’s more acute for students from a widening participation background”.

Read the full report:

(Published: March 2018)

HERACLES Moving On Up report

The Higher Education: Researching Around Care Leavers’ Entry and Success (HERACLES) report Moving On Up is now available on the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL) website.  

The report is the first study to provide an overall picture of care leavers in higher education. It explored the educational pathways of all young people in England who were 16 in 2008, tracking whether or not they entered higher education by 2015. This was supplemented by survey responses from 212 care-experienced students currently in higher education.

The report addresses the following nine research questions:

  1. Do care leavers enter HE with the same propensity as other young people, including those from disadvantaged groups?
  2. What are the social and educational attributes of care leavers who do enter HE?
  3. How do HE completion rates, withdrawal rates and degree classifications for care leavers compare with other young people, including those from disadvantaged groups?
  4. For what reasons do care leavers withdraw from HE and are these similar to the reasons given by other students?
  5. What are the social and educational attributes of care leavers who withdraw from HE?
  6. What are care-experienced students’ experiences of the transition into HE?
  7. What factors lead care-experienced students to consider leaving and why do they choose to remain in HE?
  8. What support services do they access through their university or elsewhere?
  9. What additional support do they feel could be offered to improve their transition, retention and success in HE?

The project comprised two parts providing novel data and forms of analysis:

  • Part 1: A statistical analysis of official data for England of the cohort of 650,220 young people finishing Key Stage 4 in 2007-08, including 6,470 care leavers
  • Part 2: A quantitative and qualitative analysis of the 212 responses to an online questionnaire from care-experienced students currently in higher education

The Times Higher Education featured an article about the report.

(Published: November 2017)

Social Mobility in Great Britain – fifth State of the Nation report

A report by the Social Mobility Commission highlights the stark social mobility postcode lottery that exists in Britain.

(Published: November 2017)

Year 1 Outcomes for First Degree Students

HEFCE have released a report that identifies and quantifies the outcomes of UK-domiciled, full-time first degree students at English higher education institutions at the end of their first year of study. It identifies seven different year one outcomes and shows that one in five students don’t continue straight on to the second year of their degree.

The key points are:

  • approximately one in five students don’t continue straight on to the second year of their degree course
  • between 6.6 and 8.4 per cent of students each year leave higher education, and almost as many students repeat Year 1 in the same subject at the same institution
  • the least common outcome is to switch university, stay in the same subject area and enter at a year beyond Year 1 (this is the outcome that would most likely involve the transfer of academic credit)
  • the rates at which students leave higher education, repeat Year 1 in the same subject at the same institution and transfer into Year 1 at a different institution are all lowest for students entering in 2011-12, which suggests that the change in undergraduate funding regime had a transitional effect on student behaviour and choices

Further details can be accessed at:

(Published: October 2017)

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