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Once again universities and colleges have committed financial resources well above the funding provided by HEFCE specifically for widening participation and the expenditure committed through access agreements in 2010-11. Institutions have also demonstrated the continued development of their approaches to the evaluation of their widening participation strategies and activities.
Ensuring that robust evidence of the impact and effectiveness of widening participation investment and activity is collected is increasingly important. The shared strategy on widening access to and promoting student success in higher education, which HEFCE and OFFA are developing, will be informed by the best available evidence of what works, nationally and internationally.
Sir Alan Langlands commented:
'Across the sector, universities and colleges have again demonstrated their commitment to widening participation, by spending more on this important activity in 2010-11 than the funding which HEFCE allocated specifically for this purpose and the expenditure committed through access agreements.
As funding becomes ever tighter but social mobility remains a priority, the work being undertaken in universities and colleges to assess the effectiveness of their approaches will be vital. It will help to demonstrate the impact of investment in this area made by Government, HEFCE, institutions and increasingly by students themselves. Evidence of effective practice across the student life cycle will make an important contribution to our work with OFFA to develop a shared strategy for widening participation and student success.
Social mobility remains a pressing priority for the Government, and HEFCE remains committed to ensuring that those with the potential to benefit from successful participation in higher education have the opportunity to do so. Universities and colleges have a central role to play in the achievement of these aims.'
The report, 'Access agreement and widening participation strategic assessment monitoring: outcomes for 2010-11' (HEFCE 2012/13) is available on the OFFA web-site.