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Summary

Evidence Ltd was commissioned in May 2007 to undertake an interim evaluation of HEFCE's £300 million programme of work to support strategically important and vulnerable subjects (SIVS).

The report's main conclusions are that the principles set by the 2005 SIVS advisory group are widely accepted: England has a healthy and dynamic higher education sector and that interventions to support particular disciplines should be the exception.

While recognising that many of the initiatives funded are at in their early stages, the research finds that SIVS investments are being delivered in a professional and thorough way. The sums that HEFCE has deployed are gaining much greater leverage through partnership with other agencies. Perhaps of greater importance than HEFCE investment are innovations by universities developing new market opportunities.

The research finds that individual demand raising initiatives may be in competition with one another.

In view of this, we are working to consolidate individual projects into an overall initiative that will raise aspiration and demand across science, technology, engineering and mathematics.