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NSP Evaluation

The National Scholarship Programme was announced in October 2010 and ran until 2014-15. It was designed to provide an additional financial benefit to students from disadvantaged backgrounds as they entered higher education (HE) in the context of the raising of tuition fees to £9,000 for full time students. CFE and Edge Hill University were commissioned by HEFCE to undertake a longitudinal, formative evaluation of the programme during its set up and three years of operation. The programme as well as the wider policy environment evolved over the course of the four years and the evaluation evolved with it. While maintaining a focus on the NSP, the evaluation broadened to ensure a fuller understanding of the extent to which the cost of HE, accumulated debt and the availability of financial support impact on participation and progression of disadvantaged students was developed. Over the course of the evaluation all participating HE institutions were surveyed on annual basis along with recipients of the NSP award. The first cohort of award recipients was also tracked for the remaining two years of the study. We drew on Youthsight Panels to devise a sample of prospective students and their views were captured through an online survey and a series of follow-up interviews. A cross section of 24 institutions was selected during the first year of the evaluation to act as case studies and staff and students were interviewed. The primary research was supplemented with a review of international literature on student funding and the impact of financial aid and secondary analysis of HEFCE monitoring data. A series of annual reports were produced along with a ministerial briefing to inform the development of the programme as it was rolled out.

The reports are available online:


Lindsey Bowes image

Key project contact

Lindsey Bowes

Lindsey joined CFE in 2008 and has been a member of the executive team since 2014. She has an established track record in the fields of higher education and career guidance, and particular expertise in access and participation, student financial aid and student decision-making. Lindsey regularly works with policy makers, sector bodies and higher education providers to understand the effectiveness and impact of national programmes. Her research has informed policy at a local and national level including the National Strategy for Access and Student Success and the careers strategy: Making the most of everyone’s skills and talents. Lindsey also supports the access and participation community to develop its capacity to evaluate the impact of its work.


Contact: lindsey.bowes@cfe.org.uk