Improving access for the most able but least likely: Evaluation of the Realising Opportunities Programme

Williams M, Mellors-Bourne R |   | Realising Opportunities | Jan 2019

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This report presents findings from our evaluation of the Realising Opportunities (RO) programme. RO is a programme for Year 12/13 students with good academic attainment but from disadvantaged backgrounds. It aims to encourage these students to consider going to research-intensive universities. We are evaluating the programme in collaboration with the Careers Research and Advisory Centre.

Findings are drawn from our robust evaluation framework, which involves surveying students while they are on the programme and beyond, and analysing application data from UCAS and higher education participation data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

The report highlights that the programme:

  • increases students’ understanding of university life and prepares them for university and living away from home;

  • encourages students to apply to university, particularly to top, research-intensive universities;

  • broadens geographic horizons, with increasing numbers travelling further to go to university; and

  • helps students succeed at university with high proportions achieving firsts/2:1 degrees.