TASO has commissioned the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) to develop ethics guidance to be disseminated across widening participation (WP) and student success teams within the higher education (HE) sector.

As well as supporting the sector with the use of a range of research methods, we feel it is equally important to support the navigation of ethical and data compliance considerations that come with such research methods.

The use of experimental and quasi-experimental methods, such as randomised controlled trials (RCTs), is novel for many providers, practitioners, and evaluators in the HE sector. There is also a lack of familiarity with the ethical considerations surrounding these and other large-scale quantitative methods, which we hope to address through this collaboration with UCLan.


Activities that will be included within the scope of this project:

  • UCLan will consult with relevant stakeholders to inform the project, ensuring that the remit, format, and structure of the final ethics guidance is fit for purpose. The stakeholders consulted will include: ethics committees, What Works Centres, WP/student success practitioners, evaluators and TASO advisory groups.
  • UCLan will conduct a review of existing literature, knowledge, guidance and policies concerned with the ethics of implementing large-scale quantitative data collection and analysis; experimental and quasi-experimental research methods; administrative data set analysis; qualitative interviews; and focus groups.

The review will inform the development of an ethics guidance framework which will be shared for review and stakeholder consultation.

“We are delighted to be working with TASO, and the wider sector, in developing specific guidance on research ethics. High-quality research into widening participation and student success is critical in supporting the opening up higher education to a diversity of learners.”

Dr Richard Davies, Higher Education Research and Development Lead, University of Central Lancashire


“We are excited to be working with UCLan on this timely and significant project. TASO recognises the importance of ensuring a clear and consistent approach to ethics across the sector, on both pre-entry and post-entry activities. We are seeking to support the sector with the development of accessible ethics guidance that covers the various research and evaluation methods being used in widening participation and student success. This is a crucial part of improving access and outcomes for all students in higher education, and underpinning these efforts with robust and ethical research.”

Dr Omar Khan, Director of TASO


Research partners were selected after an open call for partners. All applications were assessed by TASO Research and Evaluation Team.

This project commenced in May 2021, with final deliverables due in November 2021.