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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

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The overall aim of this project is to close the gap in progression to postgraduate taught (PGT) courses, for students from POLAR quintile 1 and 2 neighbourhoods, BAME backgrounds, or both. The importance of non-financial interventions and the diversity within this heterogeneous group are recognised.

Various interventions will be tested. These will be facilitated by ‘scaling up’ two existing projects at Leeds into two strands of work, undertaken across all six institutions: 

  • Pre-undergraduate (UG) widening participation (WP) entry interventions (the ‘Access to Leeds’ programme)
  • On-course interventions for UG WP students (‘Plus Programme’).

Strand 1

Final-year students across the partnership will be identified who are: 

  • BAME, POLAR 1&2
  • BAME, POLAR 3-5
  • non-BAME, POLAR 1&2

This will be around 2,000 students in total, who will be randomly assigned to intervention and control groups. All students who are not in the control group will engage in a series of interventions based on the UG on-course intervention model. 

Evaluation will take place to test the impact of interventions on changes in awareness and understanding of postgraduate study and the progression of these students to postgraduate study.

Strand 2

BAME offer-holders will be identified across the partnership. This will be around 1,100 students in total, who will be randomly assigned to intervention and control groups. 

Additional data on related student characteristics will be gathered to understand evaluation outputs in this context. These will include an agreed common WP indicator, gender, additional detail on ethnicity, disability, age and mode of study. 

All students who are not in the control group will engage with a series of interventions both pre-entry and on-course, including a study skills module and engagement from their subject area. 

Evaluation will take place to track the impact on conversion from offer-holder to registered student, expectations, attitudes towards postgraduate study, sense of belonging, independent learning and involvement in curricular and co-curricular activities, as well as any change in attainment.

Evaluation will be built into the design of the project by establishing comparable intervention and control groups, supplemented with assessment of students’ experiences on the interventions.  

This approach will considerably improve the rigour and replicability of the work, addressing a key criticism which has previously been levelled at widening participation practice.

This collaborative project is led by the University of Leeds in partnership with:

  • University of Manchester
  • University of Newcastle
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Warwick
  • University of York


Catalyst funding 

Total project funding  £704,000 
Project contact name  Matthew Dollery 
Project contact email
Project contact telephone  0113 343 8485

See a complete list of all funded projects


Page last updated 21 August 2017