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HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018. The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

Many of HEFCE's functions will be continued by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


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Widening participation

In 2014-15 HEFCE allocated £41 million to colleges through the annual student opportunity allocation.

This amounted to over 60 per cent of all HEFCE annual funding allocated to colleges.

How can colleges use the funds?

Colleges can use the funds to develop a strategic approach to widening participation activities and support the infrastructure they need to do so.

The funds aim to support the additional costs of recruiting and supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds and students with disabilities. 

They can be used to:

  • widen access
  • improve retention and student success
  • support progression to further study or employment
  • provide financial support to students in hardship.

Colleges should consider the whole ‘life-cycle’ of the student. This covers not only outreach and access, but also study support, successful completion at undergraduate level, and progression on to employment or further study. 

How colleges can work with schools

We fund the National Networks for Collaborative Outreach (NNCO), which will provide £22 million of funding to help more young people access HE.

The networks deliver a nationally co-ordinated approach to working with schools, universities and colleges. 

Thirty-five local networks cover the whole of England. Each network has a single point of contact to help teachers and advisers find out about HE outreach activity in their area, and to provide general advice about progression into HE. 

In many areas across the country colleges are participating in local networks with partner higher education institutions and other colleges.

A full list of the networks is available.

OFFA access agreements

Colleges charging over £6,000 tuition fees must produce an OFFA access agreement.

These set out tuition-fee limits at the college and what the college intends to do to ensure fair access for people from under-represented groups, (for example,  financial support for students and outreach work). 

For 2015-16, 49 colleges have submitted access agreements to OFFA, with access agreement expenditure totalling over £14 million.

How we will measure impact

We are currently working to develop an ‘outcomes framework’, which is designed to understand clearly the impact of widening participation and our funds.

To support this, we have commissioned two research projects. One has produced in-depth cases studies looking at how a framework could measure the impact of work in this area. The second considers the data that institutions can provided.

Read more about this research


Further information