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  6. An evaluation of the impact of financial support offered on the Access programme

An evaluation of the impact of financial support offered on the Access programme

Context

The OU commits to supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds to access higher education (HE) and to achieve equitable outcomes.  In England, the commitments identified in our Access and Participation Plan, as a condition of charging above the basic fee level, primarily focus on offering our Access modules which provide a supportive environment for those students taking their first tentative steps into HE.  Access modules are offered at half the standard University fee and a full fee waiver is available for students who meet the eligibility criteria of having a household income of less than £25,000 and no previous HE experience.

Aim

This annual evaluation seeks to evaluate the impact of the reduced fee and the full fee waiver on students studying on the University's Access Programme and their subsequent HE success.

Objectives

  • To report on the demographics of students on the Access programme against those with full fee waiver and those not.
  • To understand the impact of financial support on student engagement with the OU's Access programme, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • To explore the experiences of students who have studied an Access module and progressed to further study with the OU.

Methodology

This annual evaluation will use both analysis of institutional quantitative data and qualitative data through a review of open comments on the Student Experience at the End of a Module (SeAM) survey and one to one interviews with students.  The approach will be replicated annually.

Evaluation team

Project Manager: Darren Gray, Information, Evaluation and Research Manager (Widening Access and Success), darren.gray@open.ac.uk

Project Lead:  Wendy Fowle, Senior Manager, Research and Evaluation, (Widening Access and Success), wendy.fowle@open.ac.uk