17 July 2014
A report published today by HEFCE and OFFA [Note 1] shows that in 2012-13 universities and colleges in England significantly increased their investment in measures to widen access and improve success among students from low income and other under-represented groups.
The sector invested a total of £743 million in widening participation activity in 2012-13, an increase of £61 million from 2011-12 [Note 2].
Just under half of this investment was HEFCE funding to support widening access, students with disabilities, and improving retention and student success. The remainder came from fee income and other funding sources [Note 3].
The report shows that universities and colleges:
HEFCE’s student opportunity allocation has a clear focus on supporting students to succeed in higher education and beyond. HEFCE research reports published in 2013 and 2014 [Note 5] demonstrate continuing disparities between different student groups in both degree attainment and progression to postgraduate study or graduate employment. We need to better understand the reasons for these differences, and the ways they can be addressed, to ensure that our student opportunity funding, and investment by universities and colleges, delivers maximum impact for students. This will be a key priority for HEFCE in the coming year.
HEFCE will publish important new data on trends in non-continuation in higher education at the end of this month.
Professor Madeleine Atkins, HEFCE Chief Executive, said:
‘Universities and colleges are undertaking vitally important work to maximise student success. This report shows their priorities and patterns of activity in the new funding environment.
‘It also highlights the pivotal role of HEFCE’s student opportunity allocation. Our funding accounts for half of the sector’s expenditure on widening participation activity, and institutions have emphasised its crucial importance to their work. It sustains the infrastructure necessary to deliver a range of activity, from access and student success to progression into further study or a career.
‘HEFCE will continue to work with the sector to understand better how to support all students to achieve successful outcomes, and to see even greater impact over the coming years.’
Page last updated 17 July 2014