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The report, submitted to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) by HEFCE and the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) brings together current knowledge of what works to widen participation in higher education. It gives an early assessment of how investment in widening participation is meeting, and might be used in future to meet, the Government’s aims and objectives including its commitment to social mobility. It also examines how HEFCE’s and OFFA’s processes can be more closely aligned to improve coherence and minimise the administrative burden on universities and colleges

HEFCE and OFFA will submit their final report to Ministers in autumn 2013, building on the evidence and emerging priorities identified in this interim report.

HEFCE Chief Executive Alan Langlands said:

‘This report is the first step in the development of the national strategy for access and student success. This work has provided us with a welcome opportunity to demonstrate the effect of concentrated effort and investment in widening participation and how we might focus resources in the future.

‘We look forward to continuing to work with OFFA  and the higher education sector to inject pace and rigour into our work on widening participation and improving social mobility.’

Director of Fair Access to Higher Education Professor Les Ebdon said:

‘In the development of this national strategy, we’re building on more than a decade of effort which has already substantially increased the numbers of people from disadvantaged backgrounds who go to university. However, there’s still a large gap between the participation in higher education of the most and the least advantaged in our society and we need to shrink this gap further.

‘Over the next few months we’ll be calling for evidence from across the sector and also examining the findings of new research that both HEFCE and ourselves have commissioned to inform the development of the national strategy. Our hope is that we will then be in a position to recommend where we should all be focusing our efforts to maximise the impact of investment in widening participation.’

Notes

1. For further information, please contact Helen Albon at HEFCE, tel 0117 931 7076, or Zita Adamson at OFFA, tel 0117 931 7272.

2. HEFCE and OFFA correspondence with BIS in late 2012 on the development of the national strategy