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Improving the Evaluation of Outreach

Understanding effective evaluation of the impact of outreach interventions on access to higher education: an institutional approach

This programme of work aims to support all English universities in improving their evaluation of outreach work. It will do this by helping them to understand more about effective evaluation and thus evaluate more effectively and more consistently across the whole higher education sector, taking into account each university’s specific context and aims.

Our approach is founded on three principles:

  • Any new outreach initiative should be designed with evaluation in mind;
  • The foundation of a robust quantitative evaluation is an appropriate control group;
  • Where appropriate, qualitative research methods should be used to provide greater insight into the mechanisms through which any quantitative impacts have emerged.



  • improve understanding of the impact of outreach on access to higher education for students from disadvantaged groups
  • improve evaluation practice across the sector
  • help OFFA make robust, evidence-led policy that supports and challenges institutions to identify and use the most effective approaches to improving access.


Project team

Principal Investigator
Dr Claire Crawford, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Warwick and Research Fellow, Institute for Fiscal Studies

Dr Sally Hancock, Lecturer in Education, University of York
Dr Emma Uprichard, Reader, Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick
Dr Siobhan Dytham, Research Fellow, Centre for Education Studies, University of Warwick
Professor Christina Hughes, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning), University of Warwick
Paul Blagburn, Head of Widening Participation and Outreach, University of Warwick

Partner institutions
Aimhigher West Midlands
University of Birmingham
Higher Education Access Tracker (HEAT) team
Nottingham Trent University
University of Sheffield

This research is funded by the offa (office for fair access).


More information about the project

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You can read about this project on the offa website here.