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HEFCE commissioned the Aimhigher Research and Consultancy Network to produce a literature review of research into widening participation in higher education. The review was commissioned to inform the national strategy for access and student success which HEFCE and the Office for Fair Access are jointly developing.

The report reviews a selection of research and evaluation work from 2006 to the present day, across the student life-cycle. It mainly covers published empirical research, including statistical analysis, rather than emerging, theoretical or discussion pieces. The areas covered in the review are:

  • outreach and progression
  • information, advice and guidance
  • retention and success
  • impact of financial support
  • flexible provision
  • progress to postgraduate study
  • employer contribution to widening participation
  • employability
  • economic growth.

The report reviews findings from the research and evaluation work based on the above themes, and offers recommendations aimed at national policymakers, institutional managers and policymakers, and widening participation practitioners.

The literature review forms part of the broader evidence base used to inform the development of the national strategy for access and student success.

Date: 30 August 2013

Ref: Independent research