Higher Education and ESF Objective 3

An Evaluation of Impact

Aston J, Dewson S, Hillage J, Bates P, Usher T | Report 438 | Institute for Employment Studies | Feb 2007

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The Higher Education European Social Fund (HE ESF) Unit has been responsible for managing ESF projects for the HE Sector in England since 2001.

The main themes under which projects have been funded are: high-level skills training; widening participation; HE/Small and Medium Enterprise links; and research into aspects of labour market discrimination.

This report provides a greater understanding of the social, economic and labour market impacts of HE ESF projects. It comprised four methodological elements: desk research; literature review; secondary data analysis of HE ESF project closure reports; and case study research.

The evaluation concludes that HE ESF projects have contributed to social, economic and labour market developments, and that the HE ESF programme has had a number of wider impacts on the participating institutes.

It also makes recommendations to help maximise the impact of Structural Fund programmes in the years ahead.