Understanding the impact of outreach for young people who are the first in their family to go to higher education

What has happened so far?

Understanding current evaluation practice

In August 2016 OFFA commissioned a team led by Dr Claire Crawford and Professor Robin Naylor from the University of Warwick to investigate how universities and colleges evaluate their outreach schemes, working in partnership with a group of universities and other key sector bodies.

Drawing on survey data collected from universities with an access agreement, along with interviews with widening participation staff in eight institutions, the team have developed proposed standards of evaluation practice which are designed to be usable across diverse institutions within a changing higher education landscape.

Project team

Principal Investigator

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

Deputy Principal Investigator

Professor Robin Naylor, Professor of Economics, University of Warwick


Dr Siobhan Dytham, Research Fellow in the Centre for Education Studies, University of Warwick

Dr Sally Hancock, Lecturer in Education, University of York

Dr Emma Uprichard, Reader, Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick

Paul Blagburn, Head of Widening Participation and Outreach, University of Warwick

Professor Christina Hughes, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience, Sheffield Hallam University

What is happening now?

Testing the standards of evaluation practice in different contexts

The proposed standards of evaluation practice developed in the first phase of this project now need to be tested by institutions and third party organisations who offer outreach schemes to ensure they can be applied across a variety of contexts.

OFFA has commissioned a collaborative project, led by a team from the University of Exeter, to carry out this pilot test in a range of different case study sites. Working with a number of partners, the research team is investigating how the standards can be applied in different contexts. The work involves:

Project team

Principal Investigators

Professor Debra Myhill, Pro-Vice-Chancellor: College of Social Sciences and International Studies, University of Exeter

Associate Professor Anna Mountford-Zimdars, Director of the Centre for Excellence in Widening Participation Research and Practice, University of Exeter


Dr Pallavi Amitava Banerjee, Lecturer in Education, University of Exeter

Joanne Moore, Social Researcher, Aimhigher Research and Consultancy Network

Institutional partners

Loughborough University

University of Liverpool

University of Plymouth

Royal Northern College of Music

Third sector partners

The Access Project



The Sutton Trust

What will happen next?

After OFFA closes on 31 March 2018, this project will transfer to the Office for Students which will continue to support the work as described above.

Want more information?

Contact Richard Shiner, Head of Evidence and Effective Practice (0117 931 7171, richard.shiner@offa.org.uk