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by Izzy Kelly

Aimhigher Project Officer at Aimhigher West Midlands

posted on 19 Apr '22

What works? Demonstrating impactful university engagement

For those of us who work with students specifically to help widen participation in higher education, it is important to reflect upon the work that we do with our young people. What is even more important is analysing that work and evaluating the impact of it.

University engagement - what works?

In a recent study (1), it was revealed that the types of engagement that were most strongly associated with UCAS acceptance were summer schools, campus visits and information and guidance. Additionally, combinations of activities that included summer schools were particularly effective in predicting acceptance into higher education, while the second most effective combination was of information, campus visits and masterclass activities.

Interestingly, the research also showed that taking part in five to six outreach activities provided the optimal balance between input and impact, with the benefits of each additional engagement (after five or six) being small.

Research also showed that learners engaging in outreach activity (specifically the Uni Connect Programme in this research), even if just once, are linked to a higher chance of being offered a place in higher education. This is true even when looking at other variables that can determine UCAS success (school, sex, ethnicity or deprivation).

If you’re a fan of data and want to learn more about the findings in this study, the reference is below. The study analyses the effect of a multi-intervention outreach programme (Uni Connect) in higher education acceptance by comparing learners who engaged in this programme’s activities and those who did not.

(1) A.P. Burgess, M.S. Horton, E. Moores, Optimising the impact of a multi-intervention outreach programme on progression to Higher Education: recommendations for future practice and research.

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