You need cookies enabled


You need cookies enabled

Student opportunity allocation: institutional data returns and funding for hardship

The following note sets out our plans for requesting data returns on the student opportunity allocation. It also explains how the allocation can be used to support hardship now that it incorporates the Access to Learning Fund.

Note on student opportunity allocation institutional data returns and funding for hardship

Download the Student opportunity allocation: institutional data returns and funding for hardship as PDF (68 KB) | Download the Student opportunity allocation: institutional data returns and funding for hardship as MS Word (57 KB)

The Student Opportunity allocation

The Student Opportunity allocation is the main way we support widening participation. 

This funding recognises the additional costs of recruiting and supporting students in three main areas: 

  • students from disadvantaged backgrounds
  • students with disabilities
  • work to retain students who may be less likely to continue their studies. 

The allocations do not take the form of funds for individual students. We allocate them to support the extra cost to institutions this work entails.

We administer the funds as one of the targeted allocations within our overall teaching funding.

Our ‘Guide to funding’ explains how we calculate the Student Opportunity allocation.

We also publish details of how we use data to inform the Student Opportunity allocation

Students from disadvantaged backgrounds

These funds help institutions with their outreach activity. Such work aims to raise aspirations and attainment among potential students from under-represented groups.

The funding method for widening access applies a weight to undergraduate new entrants according to:

  • young HE participation by 2001 census ward for full-time undergraduates under 21 on entry
  • or the proportion of 16-74 year olds with a HE qualification by 2001 census ward for part-time and mature undergraduates.

Improving provision for disabled students

These funds are designed to support greater access to higher education for disabled students and improve their overall learning and teaching experience.

We calculate these funds by taking into account the number of students at each institution who receive the Disabled Students Allowance. We assign each institution to one of four bands using HESA and Data Service individualised student data. The calculations include London weighting where appropriate.

More about our work to support disabled students

Improving retention

This part of the Student Opportunity allocation supports students who have the potential to succeed in higher education but are likely to need more support than others to complete their studies.  

Broadly, we use the age and entry qualifications of every institution’s students to identify degrees or ‘weightings’ of risk for each institution. We calculate a ‘rate’ of funding that we apply to all full-time equivalent students which takes account of this risk. 

We use a different model for part-time undergraduate students. In this case we do not consider degrees of institutional risk.  Here we calculate a rate for all part-time students and apply it to institutions depending on their total number of part-time undergraduates (on a full-time equivalent basis). 

Annual figures and allocation method

In 2015-16 we will allocate £364.2 million under the Student Opportunity fund.

Full details of this figure, the allocation method for all Student Opportunity allocations, and figures from previous years are available in our ‘Annual funding allocations’ section. 

Page last updated 11 February 2015