What is it? Summer schools are a form of on-campus outreach comprising a range of activities designed to immerse participants in an experience of higher education (HE), including workshops, taster sessions and social activities.

Evidence? There is little causal research on the efficacy of summer schools to widen participation. The existing studies show that students who attend a summer school express higher confidence and aspiration at the end than at the beginning, but evidence on progression to HE is limited.

Should HE providers use summer schools to widen participation? Currently there is insufficient evidence to say that summer schools are an effective tool to widen participation. There is an absence of evidence on progression. It is plausible that summer schools attract participants who are most likely to increase their confidence and aspirations, and go on to HE, regardless of the summer school. Given the time- and resource-intensive nature of summer schools, there is strong case for seeking more information on the efficacy versus other less intensive approaches. TASO is running a research project to produce more evidence on the efficacy of this approach.