Call for evidence: impact of BME-focused widening participation activities

Request for research and evaluation into the impact of BME-focused widening participation activities on students in higher education

The closing date for this call for evidence has now passed.

This call asks for research, evaluation and other evidence about the impact of BME-focused widening participation activities on access, student experience, retention and completion or outcomes beyond the first degree. The findings from this review will allow OFFA, and the sector, to understand the broader national picture alongside the approaches and findings from institutions and third sector organisations (including the scope, nature and process of the evaluation).

About the research

OFFA is developing a research agenda around BME participation and success in higher education in response to the most recent guidance letter from the government. We are especially keen to hear about activities which support students across the student lifecycle.

The first phase is to undertake a review of current practices and evaluation undertaken by higher education providers and third sector organisations. This includes institutional reviews and evaluation alongside peer-reviewed and published research, allowing OFFA, and the sector, to build an understanding of the broader national picture.

In particular we are interested in:

The review will inform a second phase in which OFFA will commission new research to further investigate BME-focused widening participation activities and evaluation at an institutional level in partnership with the sector, examining the impact of such work across the student lifecycle and the wider student experience. This will be tendered in 2017.

How to respond to this call for evidence


This project takes an expansive look at how widening participation and fair access work impacts upon student lives. We wish to receive details of actives, copies of research and evaluation reports, and other evidence which focus on BME-focused activities in student access, on the student experience (including continuation, student success and wellbeing), and outcomes beyond undergraduate education (including employment and postgraduate study).

We are interested in BME-focused activities for undergraduate students, whether they are full or part-time. Postgraduate students are beyond the scope of this research.

We would be interested to see research and evaluation on BME-focused schemes that may be outside of the access agreement but nevertheless support widening participation, for example, those funded by philanthropic donations.

We are interested in current activity, methods of evaluation, and evidence of impact. This includes activities where the outcomes have not been as expected. Any information submitted will only be used for research purposes and will not part of OFFA’s access agreement monitoring function.

How to submit your research

Please send your research and evaluation reports directly to OFFA’s Evidence and Effective Practice team at by midday on 10 January 2017. If you have any queries please also direct them to this email address.

We have developed an optional template to use for submissions, but we are happy to receive other review and evaluation materials too. Where possible, please send any documents in a word format to support our analysis process.

What happens after you have submitted your research

After considering the responses we will publish a report in Spring 2017.

Freedom of Information

OFFA is subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 which gives the public a right to know what information we hold and to access this information. OFFA has a responsibility to decide whether the information should be disclosed on request, or treated in confidence. OFFA can refuse to disclose information only in exceptional circumstances and where the information is covered by one of the exemptions outlined in the legislation.

Where OFFA considers it to be appropriate and practicable, we will seek the information providers’ views before disclosing information in response to an FOI request.

Further information about the Act is available at