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Evaluating your access activities and expenditure

What are OFFA’s expectations of institutions’ evaluation of expenditure and activity?

Decisions on your access agreement expenditure should be based on sound evaluations of your access activities and other institutions’ best practice. There is a strong focus on our expectations under our guidance on drawing up an access agreement for 2014-15 and subsequent years, which emphasises the need to build effective evaluation into your access plans right from the start. 

There has been substantial investment into widening participation work and we want to ensure that it is used to best effect. Institutions should continue to challenge themselves to focus investment on high-impact activities. We acknowledge the diverse approaches to widening participation within the sector, and that there is no “one size fits all” approach to evaluation, but throughout the process you should be asking yourself the question: how do we understand and evaluate this?

Is there any guidance to help me evaluate more effectively? 

There is information on evaluation and monitoring in our latest access agreement guidance, available on our publications page.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England/Higher Education Academy evaluation toolkit is a valuable aid to assessing impact.

In March 2013 OFFA hosted a one-day conference, “Evidence Based Access Agreements: target setting, evidence building, monitoring and evaluation”, with Universities UK and Action on Access. The event offered practical advice and workshops on evaluating and monitoring impact, and how to use this evidence to put together an access agreement that is firmly evidence-based. The presentation slides from the evaluation event (plenaries, workshops and panel discussion) are available.

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