Sustained collaborative partnerships of universities, colleges, schools and local agencies are developing young people’s confidence in their ability to progress successfully into higher education.
An independent evaluation of the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP) – funded by the Office for Students (OfS) – has found encouraging signs that, after two years of operation, the 29 partnerships have made good progress in challenging misconceptions about higher education and developing greater self-belief in young people from areas where fewer people go to university.
NCOP aims to rapidly increase the number of young people from underrepresented groups who go into higher education by providing long-term outreach activity in 997 target areas across England where higher education participation is lower than would be expected given the GCSE results of young people in the area.
Since August 2017, the partnerships have engaged more than 660,000 young people between the ages of 13 and 18, delivering impartial information, advice and guidance and activities tailored to pupils’ age and specific needs. Many partnerships also offer continuing professional development (CPD) to teachers and careers advisers, and reach out directly to parents and carers.
Crucially, the evaluation by CFE Research found that this programme of sustained and progressive outreach with multiple activities had a more positive impact on young people’s knowledge of and attitudes towards higher education than other ad hoc outreach activity.
The OfS’s funding for NCOP is intended to complement and add value to the work that universities and other higher education providers do through the access and participation plans they must have approved as a condition of registration.
In the next phase of the programme, partnerships will have greater flexibility to work with pupils from underrepresented backgrounds in a wider range of schools and colleges. The OfS has also commissioned research to understand how outreach activity is perceived by young people’s key influencers – their teachers and parents – and will provide increased support for evaluation across the partnerships.
See the reports published today:
- NCOP: end of phase one report for the national formative and impact evaluations
- NCOP: Two years on
- Perceptions of higher education outreach and access activity
Read a blog post from Chris Millward, Director for Fair Access and Participation at the OfS, discussing the impact that NCOP is having and looking at the next steps for the programme.