National evaluation of Uni Connect
The National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP), now known as Uni Connect, was launched in January 2017. A total of 29 partnerships were funded to deliver a ‘sustained, progressive and intensive programme of support’ to pupils in Years 9 to 13 who live in areas with low absolute levels of HE participation and where participation is lower than expected given GCSE attainment. During Phase 1, which ended in July 2019, CFE worked in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University, the Behavioural Insights Team and economists from the University of Sheffield and LSE to undertake a formative and impact evaluation of Uni Connect and a programme of capacity building to support partnerships to develop and implement their local evaluation plans. The Phase 1 report for the Office for Students was published in October 2019.
CFE is continuing with the impact evaluation in Phase 2 which runs until autumn 2021. Two further waves of a large-scale longitudinal survey of learners in target schools and colleges will be undertaken. The survey data will be linked to tracking and national administrative data to understand the impact of Uni Connect on learners’ knowledge, attitudes towards and progression to HE. A meta-review of local evaluation evidence on the impact of Uni Connect activities will provide insights into effective outreach, adding to the evidence base on what works in access and participation.