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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

Many of HEFCE's functions will be continued by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


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The aim of the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP) is to influence the number of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds progressing to higher education. 

HEFCE commissioned CFE Research to undertake the national evaluation of this programme, as follows: 

  • the formative evaluation and capacity building with consortia
  • the impact evaluation using experimental methods.

Although tentative in its findings, this report on the first year's work of the national evaluation identifies important next steps for the second year:

  • further review of local evaluation plans and findings
  • examination of consortia operating models, with a focus on effective governance
  • exploration of the extent to which consortia work with schools and further education colleges to upskill staff, facilitating sustainability of outreach activity beyond 2020
  • investigation of effective approaches for:
    • engaging parents
    • making use of the learner voice to inform outreach activities
  • evaluation of the extent to which consortia develop innovative approaches to outreach activity, and their effectiveness
  • exploration of learners' aspirations, knowledge of higher education and future plans through a follow-up survey of participants
  • exploration of impact through the linking of participants' primary survey data to longitudinal tracking data
  • assessment of the challenges of the design and implementation of randomised controlled trials in the context of NCOP.

For background information on the whole NCOP evaluation, see the NCOP evaluation and monitoring webpages.