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HEFCE appointed consultants to review Aimhigher Partnership arrangements to inform both HEFCE and partnerships about whether the funding that is being allocated for overheads is reasonable.

The research aimed to develop our understanding of:

  • how Aimhigher partnerships define overheads and what percentage of overall Aimhigher funding is spent on this
  • how partnerships judge the success of alternative forms of intervention, including the cost-effectiveness of such interventions
  • the extent to which partnerships use any third-party services, and how delivery of such services is assessed
  • the management arrangements in place among partnerships and the extent to which any performance management culture has been developed.

The consultants, Grant Thornton, confirmed that the significant proportion of funding at each partnership is directed at front-line engagement, and partnerships have appropriate governance, monitoring and reporting arrangements in place to enable them to know what they have spent their money on. However, they found variation in these arrangements across the partnerships and, as a result, different understanding of the cost, unit cost and impact of funding.