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
- prosthetics and orthotics.
Why we funded this programme
Most nursing, midwifery and allied health (NMAH) pre-registration courses moved into the higher education funding system from 2017-18. In its 2017 grant letter to the OfS’s predecessor body, HEFCE, the Department for Education asked HEFCE to identify small and specialist NMAH programmes and implement measures to support them.
HEFCE allocated £1 million a year for three years to support a programme of strategic interventions in health education disciplines (SIHED). This work transferred to the OfS from 1 April 2018.
Activities funded by the programme
The priority activities of the programme were:
How the programme was developed
We worked with the following sector and professional bodies corresponding to the four disciplines to develop a programme of activities to ensure their sustainability:
- Health Education England
- The British Association of Prosthetists and Orthotists
- The British and Irish Orthoptics Society
- The College of Podiatry
- The Council of Deans of Health
- The Society and College of Radiographers
- Universities UK (UUK)
- The Allied Health Professions Federation
The programme board was drawn from these bodies and chaired by Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University and chair of UUK’s healthcare research and education policy network.
How the programme was managed
The College of Podiatry was awarded a grant to manage several major aspects of the SIHED programme. These included:
- commissioning a national marketing and communications campaign for the four small, vulnerable disciplines
- administering the Challenge Fund
- coordinating the outreach network.
Read more about the project on The College of Podiatry website
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.
Legacy and next steps
The OfS will fund the legacy programme until February 2022 and this will be managed by the Council of Deans of Health and evaluated by SQW. The main activities of the legacy programme will be:
- 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 will be published in Spring 2022.