This report is the final output of one of two related projects to develop an evaluation framework to better evidence the impact of funding to widen participation in HE. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) provides annual funding to HE providers for activities to widen access to HE for disadvantaged and underrepresented groups, to support them to achieve and to improve graduate outcomes.
HEFCE commissioned CFE Research, working in collaboration with economists from the London School of Economics and the University of Birmingham, to develop and pilot a data return to gather more detailed information to help understand the relationship between the HEFCE funding and the resulting activities, outputs and outcomes.
Current WP monitoring and research is primarily focused on input measures such as the type of activities institutions undertake and their aggregate costs. Little has been done at a national level to assign robust metrics that measure impact and outcomes for individuals, social or economic returns or value for money. The lack of evidence of impact is an issue for government, funding councils and institutions and there is an international call for rigorous and consistent evaluation of WP interventions in order to establish programme effectiveness.
This report provides details of the development of a pilot data return that aims to address these issues. It includes the rationale for the chosen design, the results of the piloting process, including feedback from institutions, and recommendations for next steps.