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 Research in 2008 and led the team responsible for HE policy research before becoming research director in 2014. She has particular expertise in widening participation, student financial aid and student decision making, although in her current role she also oversees projects in CFE’s other work strands, the economy and wellbeing.

Over the past 20 years Lindsey has contributed to research that has informed policy and practice at the national level, including the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education and the National Strategy for Access and Students.