Collaborative working

Collaboration between institutions and other stakeholders (such as schools, colleges and communities) is an important element of delivering long-term outreach and high-quality, impartial higher education-related advice and guidance. The national strategy for access and student success identifies the benefits that collaborative outreach can deliver in terms of scale, engagement, co-ordination and impartiality. Collaboration also helps to increase coverage and avoid duplication.

Many universities and colleges already include investment in collaborative activity in their access agreements and we strongly encourage you to do so wherever possible. Such activity could include working collaboratively with other institutions to explain the value of higher education to potential students from under-represented groups, or work around curricular choices which can be crucial in ensuring that both young people and adult learners are well informed when making their qualification and subject choices for GCSE or equivalent and beyond.

You may include the cost of these collaborative activities as part of your access agreement spend and you should include in your access agreement clear information on the collaborative activities you have in place, or that are in development, including listing the institutions or networks where you have formal collaborations.

We always take your collaborative efforts into account when assessing your progress in achieving the targets you have set yourself and we encourage you to set collaborative targets.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is funding the development of national networks for collaborative outreach (NNCOs), to support collaborative approaches to delivering outreach to all state-funded secondary schools and colleges, and a national tracking system called the Higher Education Access Tracker (HEAT) for students involved in widening participation activity.

HEFCE’s website has further guidance about the HEAT and NNCOs (including answers to frequently asked questions about NNCOs).

What highly selective institutions will need to consider

If your institution is highly selective, we strongly encourage you to explore how collaborative outreach might address the particular issues you face around subject choice and higher aspirations. Specific collaborative arrangements with other selective institutions may help you to ensure regional or national coverage.

Highly selective institutions should also consider the recommendation in OFFA publication 2010/03, What more can be done to widen access to highly selective universities?, that you collectively employ peripatetic staff to supplement the academic/financial support and guidance available within schools and colleges, particularly in Years 9 and 11 when key subject choices are made.

Related guidance and resources

Including collaborative spending in your access agreement

Setting collaborative targets

How we assess your performance

The practitioner toolkit on partnerships, developed for HEFCE by the International Centre for Guidance Studies and The Progression Trust, offers practical advice on delivering collaborative outreach schemes.