Use and impact of access agreements icon

Use and impact of access agreements

OFFA is an independent, non-departmental public body that was established under the Higher Education Act of 2004. Following the introduction of variable tuition fees in 2006/07 and recent fee increases in 2012/13, OFFA’s remit has been to promote and safeguard fair access to HE and to ensure explicit commitment from HE Institutions to increasing the participation of under-represented groups. Access agreements are a key mechanism for ensuring these aims are met as they require institutions charging tuition fees above the basic rate to invest a proportion of additional fee income in financial support and/or outreach, retention and student success work. At the time this research was commissioned, little was known about how the evolution of access agreements had impacted on institutional planning, behaviour and policy priorities and whether it had enabled institutions to be more creative in their approach to widening participation. This research was designed to address this gap in understanding and contribute to the National Strategy for Access and Student Success. Institutional staff with responsibility for the development of access agreements were consulted through an online survey and follow-up depth interviews.

The report provides evidence of the effect that access agreements and associated spend have had on institutions and WP outcomes. It is 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.