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As part of the Government’s National Scholarship Programme (NSP), HEFCE commissioned CFE consultants and the Widening Participation Centre at Edge Hill University to carry out a formative evaluation of the scheme.

This report summarises the outcomes of evaluation activity undertaken in 2013-14, the second year of the programme’s operation. It contains the results of surveys, focus groups and interviews with participating institutions and recipients as well as summarising the programme’s emerging themes and impacts.

The role of this formative evaluation is to help HEFCE, other policy-makers and participating institutions develop a fuller understanding of what works best and why in relation to the design and delivery of the NSP. The evaluation will also offer cumulative insights into the impact and influence of the NSP and wider student finance on student decision-making, participation, retention and progression amongst under-represented groups. The findings may offer insights which have resonance for other schemes of student support.

The formative evaluation commenced in 2011 when the scheme was being set up, in order to provide an independent perspective on the development of the scheme and its implementation. The evaluation is being conducted in a series of interlocking phases designed to capture longitudinal data from a range of stakeholders. The first-year report focused on the development of the scheme before implementation in 2011-12 and was published in May 2012 with an addendum and summary of year one in March 2013. The second-year report focused on the implementation of the NSP in its first year (2012-13) and was published in November 2013.