Health education funding

Strategic interventions in health education disciplines

The OfS funded the strategic interventions in health education disciplines (SIHED) programme. It started in January 2018 and ran until March 2021, with a budget of £1 million per year.

The SIHED programme aimed to:

  • increase awareness of allied health disciplines
  • increase understanding of, and demand for, higher education courses in small specialist allied health disciplines
  • strengthen and diversify the delivery of the small and specialist disciplines covered by this initiative
  • develop a better understanding of the student market for nursing, midwifery and allied health courses, including mature and male participation.

The disciplines in scope for targeted interventions were:

  • therapeutic radiography
  • podiatry
  • orthoptics
  • prosthetics and orthotics.

Activities funded by the programme

The priority activities of the programme were managed by The College of Podiatry on behalf of the OfS and included:

  • delivering a marketing and communications campaign to support student recruitment to small and specialist allied health professions
  • appointing outreach and communications officers in the four small, specialist subject areas covered by the programme
  • running two Challenge Funds and inviting providers to pilot innovative ways of recruiting to or delivering these specialist programmes. Read more about the funded projects
  • launching the 'I see the difference' website (now decommissioned) to deliver a wider allied health message
  • commissioning research into barriers to mature student engagement in healthcare, and how to address them, which was published in March 2019
  • commissioning a study of male participation in nursing and allied health, to better understand current differences in male participation to different healthcare disciplines and propose approaches to help overcome barriers.

Programme evaluation

We commissioned the evaluation of the SIHED programme, which was carried out by SQW:

  • SIHED evaluation report
  • SIHED evaluation summary slides.

View the report and the summary slides

Key achievements of the programme

Among the main achievements highlighted in the evaluation report are:

  • the use of innovative digital approaches to respond to the challenges raised by COVID-19
  • engagement by outreach officers across 470 face-to-face and virtual events
  • 345,000 unique individuals visiting the 'I see the difference' website
  • 15 Challenge Fund projects where universities have considered innovative approaches to recruitment and retention of students
  • the growth in collaboration between the AHP Professional Bodies.


The OfS funded the legacy programme for a further year until February 2022 and this was managed by the Council of Deans of Health and evaluated by SQW. The main activities of the legacy programme were:

  • capturing learning
  • sharing resources
  • continuing the marketing and communications campaign
  • disseminating Challenge Fund materials and reports
  • establishing an advisory board to include the OfS and representatives from universities and professional bodies.

The report evaluating the legacy programme was published in April 2022 - view the legacy report.

Last updated 21 April 2022
21 April 2022
Link added to SIHED programme legacy report.
29 March 2022
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