NCOP is currently focused on providing targeted higher education outreach to young people in years 9 to 13 living in particular geographic areas.
The programme aims to:
- reduce the gap in higher education participation between the most and least represented groups
- support young people to make well-informed decisions about their future education
- support effective and impactful local collaboration by higher education providers working together with schools, colleges, employers and other partners
- contribute to a stronger evidence base around ‘what works’ in higher education outreach and strengthen evaluation practice in the sector.
There are 29 local partnerships of universities, colleges, local authorities, LEPs, employers and others who work together to develop and deliver NCOP locally. Where appropriate they work closely with related programmes and initiatives, such as the Department for Education opportunity areas.
During 2017-18 NCOP partnerships worked with around 1,500 schools and colleges to deliver sustained and progressive programmes of targeted higher education outreach with 102,000 young people.
The programme is intended to complement and add value to the work that higher education providers undertake through their access and participation plans, in particular work that is best delivered in collaboration.
NCOP target areas
The level of participation of young people aged 18 and 19 in higher education in England varies across the country. NCOP uses research on areas with an unexplained gap in participation to determine where investment can be targeted to boost the numbers of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds going into higher education.
This process led to the identification of the 997 wards which are the focus of the NCOP. These wards have:
- low levels of young participation (POLAR3 Q1) and lower than expected levels of young participation, considering Key Stage 4 attainment and ethnicity (Q1 or Q2), or
- low levels of young participation (POLAR3 Q1) and lower than expected levels of young participation, considering Key Stage 4 attainment only (Q1 or Q2).
More information is available on the POLAR3 and Gaps classifications used to identify the target wards, including methodologies.
During the second phase of the programme, the 29 local partnerships will establish outreach hubs that between them will provide coverage for every local authority in England.
How is the programme funded?
Funding of £60 million per year has been provided for academic years 2017-18 and 2018-19. Following a review, the programme will continue for academic years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, with exact funding amounts to be confirmed.
Download the phase one funding allocations