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HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018. The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

Many of HEFCE's functions will be continued by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


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Providing an opportunity for the three partners of New College Durham, Sunderland College and Darlington College to work collaboratively, the project intends to improve retention, achievement, attainment and progression rates for HE students.

This will be achieved by sharing resources, knowledge and learning to develop a proactive, holistic, responsive and sensitive service to meet their needs.

All project partners provide HE for students living in North East England, and students on foundation degrees and higher national programmes are predominantly young white males and in POLAR quintiles 1 and 2.

The additional resources created by this project will enable the three partners to support a combined total of 3,000 students across the lifetime of the project, with the aim of achieving:

  • a 10% improvement in retention, achievement and attainment rates
  • a 15% increase in the proportion of students progressing into Level 6 and 7 qualifications.

The focus of the project is on HE students enrolled on foundation degrees and higher national programmes. While recruitment and retention rates on these programmes across all three partners are good, attainment and progression to Level 6 and postgraduate study is low.

Data also indicates that attainment, achievement and progression are particularly low among students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, in particular young, white males, as well as for students with learning difficulties or mental health issues.

In England, a slightly lower proportion of working age males have degree level qualifications than females. These proportions are similar in Durham and Darlington, but in Sunderland only 14.8% of working age males have degree level qualifications, compared with 20.1% for females.

The 2016 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey data identifies high numbers progressing into employment or further study but the majority earn less than the average graduate salary.

This project aims to address this inequality by helping students to access higher quality, better paid employment opportunities by improving levels of attainment, achievement and confidence.

Catalyst funding 

Total project funding  £600,000 
Project contact name  Gillian Askew
Project contact email
Project contact telephone  0191 375 4320

See a complete list of all funded projects


Page last updated 21 August 2017