HEFCE : Student Opportunity Outcomes Framework Research: in-depth study icon

HEFCE : Student Opportunity Outcomes Framework Research: in-depth study

This was one of two related projects to support the development of a framework for better demonstrating the impact of funding to widen participation in higher education. CFE Research worked alongside leading academics in the fields of widening participation and economics.

We collated and assessed the evidence of the impact of widening participation (WP) and explored some of the benefits and challenges in improving the evidence base. A draft evaluation framework was developed as a series of logic chains and an indicator bank. We consulted with staff, students and stakeholders from 25 higher education providers. The economists on the project team carried out an econometric analysis of secondary data to explore whether there is a link between the funding input and the outputs of degree success and high level employment.

Using insights from approaches taken in other sectors, we recommended what can be done now, and in the future, to produce stronger evidence. We also provided supplementary case studies, illustrating evidence of impact and focusing on different aspects of WP.

The resulting report and framework continues to be used by HEFCE as part of their work to improve evaluation of WP activity and funding.

Rachel Moreton image

Key project contact

Rachel Moreton

Rachel is an experienced researcher and project manager. She joined the CFE team in 2012 after working as a freelance researcher and as a senior research officer for the Department for Communities and Local Government.

In her role at CFE, Rachel has led a diverse range of projects, many related to tackling disadvantage. This includes our nine-year national evaluation of the Big Lottery Fund’s ‘Supporting People with Multiple Needs’ initiative.