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National strategy for access and student success

HEFCE and the Office for Fair Access have worked with institutions and other organisations in the higher education sector to develop a national strategy for access and student success. 

The strategy has now been submitted to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The strategy was developed following a request from ministers

The main aim of the strategy is to ensure that those with the ability to benefit from higher education have equal opportunity to participate and succeed regardless of background, age, ethnicity, disability or gender.

It will do this by making the most of investment in widening participation, access and student success by universities, colleges, the government, HEFCE and other organisations. 

How has the strategy been developed?

We have consulted with the higher education sector and analysed evidence of what works best to widen participation and ensure student success, both in the UK and abroad. 

Our conclusions, and recommendations on where the sector should focus its efforts, were presented to BIS ministers in September 2013. 

Timeline of what’s happening

Interim report submitted to ministers

January 2013

Publication of interim report by BIS

7 March 2013

Call for evidence

March to April 2013

Research and stakeholder engagement


National strategy submitted to BIS

September 2013

Publication of national strategy by BIS

Expected early 2014

Aligning HEFCE and OFFA processes

Ongoing for publication January 2014

Interim report

We submitted an interim report to ministers in January 2013. 

This report:

  • outlined how we will develop the national strategy
  • brought together current knowledge of what works to improve access and student success
  • gave an early assessment of how effort and investment in widening participation is helping social mobility and meeting the government’s aims, and how this might be improved
  • looked at how HEFCE and OFFA’s processes can be more closely aligned to improve coherence and minimise administration for universities and colleges. 

Aligning OFFA and HEFCE processes

We recently let universities and colleges know about a new document which will bring together access agreements and widening participation strategic statements.

The new Strategies for Access and Student Success (SASS) will take the form of a document in which universities and colleges set out their approach to widening participation.

We will publish full guidance about this process on 23 January 2014. The deadline for submissions will be 14 April 2014.

Page last updated 10 December 2013

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