Our evidence review on the impact of interventions for widening access to higher education found that while multi-intervention outreach programmes appear to have a positive effect on students’ aspirations and attitudes towards higher education, the methods used do not provide causal evidence nor do many focus on progression to higher education (HE) as an outcome.


As existing evidence tends to focus on multi-intervention outreach programmes as a whole, this project seeks to investigate the impact of specific elements in multi-intervention outreach programmes.

We are working with three higher education providers (HEPs) for this project: Aston University, Kings College London, and the University of Birmingham.


What are we doing? 

  • At Aston University the project will focus on the ‘Progression Pathways’ programme – a two-year programme targeted at Year 12 and 13 students.
  •  At King’s College London, the project will focus on the ‘K+’ programme – a two-year programme targeted at Year 12 and 13 students.
  • At the University of Birmingham, the project will focus on the ‘Forward Thinking’ programme – a four-year programme starting at Year 8 through to Year 11, including taster days, skills sessions, and mentoring with a current university student throughout Year 10.
  • The project involves a combination of local evaluation work at each provider and collaborative work to map out commonalities and differences between the programmes and develop common evaluation and measurement frameworks.
  • The local evaluation work will involve testing several causal impact evaluation methods, including randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-experimental designs where possible.

Research protocol