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National strategy for access and student success

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

This follows a request from ministers in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

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 is the strategy being developed?

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

We will present our conclusions, and recommendations on where the sector should focus its efforts, to BIS ministers in September 2013.

When will the strategy be submitted?

The strategy will be submitted to Government in early 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 analysis Ongoing
Roundtable discussions with stakeholders Spring 2013
Publication of national strategy by BIS Expected late 2013
Aligning HEFCE and OFFA processes Ongoing to early 2014
Review of funding of National Scholarship Programme with BIS Ongoing to early 2014

Interim report

We submitted an 20130218 National strategy for access and student success: interim report 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 have begun developing a joint process for access agreements and widening participation strategic statements. 

We intend to publish guidance to universities and colleges in very early 2014.This will allow them to tell us about their access agreement commitments for the 2015-16 academic year, and their widening participation strategy for 2014 to 2017. 

For further information see paragraphs 47 to 48 of OFFA publication 2013/01, How to produce an access agreement for 2014-15 and HEFCE circular letter 01/2013, Widening participation strategic statements: plans for integration with OFFA access agreements.

Page last updated 14 March 2013

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