Localised Widening Participation Strategies – a data-based approach

The results of a year-long study by the Southern Policy Centre, supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and GuildHE.

The study has used ‘open data’, and data held by local councils, to explore why able young people may miss out on university. The data has been used to suggest possible local widening participation strategies.

Widening participation in Higher Education

New study sheds light on why Southern students miss out on university

Over 50 young people every year are missing out on university from just five local government wards in Poole, Hampshire, Southampton, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth. And over 100 more should be going to university, according to Government targets.

These stark figures were at the centre of a ground-breaking conference being held at Southampton Solent University on Friday 28th October. The conference heard the results of a year-long study by the Southern Policy Centre, supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and GuildHE.

The study has used ‘open data’, and data held by local councils, to explore why able young people may miss out on university. The data has been used to suggest possible local widening participation strategies.

Issues identified include:

• Students who get good GCSE results are less likely to go to university than their peers elsewhere
• In some areas, poorer students get markedly less good results at GCSE
• The number of students going to college at 16 varies widely, as do drop-out rates
• Areas where parents work in less skills jobs or have fewer qualifications have lower levels of participation in higher education

The analysis has been used to suggest local interventions including:

• Targeted support for able students from local areas
• Support for parents to raise aspirations
• Engaging the assistance of employers, community
organisations and social housing providers

Chair of the Southern Policy Centre, John Denham, said:

“This is an innovative and ground-breaking project that suggests practical ways to reduce the number of able young people who may feel that university is ‘not for them’ and are currently missing out on higher education.”

 

The data analysis toolkit is here: hefce-toolkit-october-2016

John Denham’s slides are here: jd-hefce-slides-27-oct-2016

Ceri Nursaw’s two presentations are here: ceri-pres-1 ceri-pres-2

Mark Frank’s presentation is here: the-data-analysis-toolkit-v2

The full report can be read here: hefce-report-october-2016

Why are some areas falling behind in university participation?

SPC launches major new research project into widening participation to Higher Education

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) have produced and published a set of analysis that looks into trends in HE. In particular their statistics on young participation show that there are unexplained gaps in levels of participation from area to area.

The Southern Policy Centre have been commissioned by HEFCE to look more closely at five local authority wards in southern England. We want to know:

  1. Whether there are other available data sets that explain why participation in HE is lower than expected in these areas
  2. How we can use this information to improve widening participation strategies for these areas
  3. If we can use this research to produce a toolkit for other similar areas up and down the country

We’ll be working closely with universities, schools, local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships to conduct this project.

For more info please contact Izaak on wilsoni@southernpolicycentre.co.uk

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SPC hosts senior Higher Education policy round-table

This week, in collaboration with Solent University, we were delighted to host a senior higher education policy round-table. Topics discussed included access, funding and the economic roll of HE. 

Among those attending were the chair of the Business Select Committee, two former cabinet ministers for universities, the current Chief Executive of the HEFCE and other leading figures in the sector.​

Related links:

Southampton Solent University supports SPC’s first inaugural roundtable

Our work on education and skills