Research and Evaluation
The Partnership Development Office (PDO) monitors and evaluates the University of Kent’s Widening Participation Outreach activities which run in the University’s Partner schools and colleges and those belonging to the Kent and Medway Progression Federation (KMPF)
The University has a responsibility to provide evidence to HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) and the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) about the value of outreach programmes. We need to show that we are working effectively with people from areas where there is low progression to higher education and that the work we do has a positive impact (by monitoring data for a prolonged period of time).
The purpose of the evaluation and monitoring project is to:
- ensure that the activities we run are effective
- measure the impact of our activities
- identify the most effective activities and examples of best practice, and to
- ensure that our activities are targeted at the intended Widening Participation cohorts.
In order to evaluate outreach activities, we use a variety of tools: the collection of demographic information, participant surveys, focus groups, parents/carers questionnaires.
In order to monitor the targeting and attendance of our activities, and to ensure that the activities are reaching the intended groups, we ask all participants to sign a register at the beginning of every outreach activity. Participants are asked for their Name, Date of Birth and Postcode. We conduct this monitoring exercise in line with guidance from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
At present the University of Kent is leading a national project in conjunction with HEFCE which evaluates the relationship between university outreach programmes and student outcomes. The project, Higher Education Access Tracker (HEAT), requires us to collect a minimal amount of non-sensitive information (name, date of birth and postcode) about participants in our activities so that we can track them over a extended period of time through administrative databases. This data is used for research purposes only and will not be used at school or individual pupil level. Anonymised data is used for analysis and the results are aggregated.
As part of the evaluation process, we may ask participants to complete an evaluation questionnaire at the end of the outreach activities (if it is a short or one-off activity), or to complete a questionnaire at the beginning and again at the end of an activity (if it is a modular session run over a few days or weeks). This questionnaire is designed to collect information about each pupil’s attitudes towards and feelings about HE level study, and about the skills and knowledge that they may have developed as a result of the activity.
It will be made clear to participants that they are not obliged to complete the questionnaire or any specific part of it, if they are not comfortable doing so.
We will occasionally conduct a limited number of focus groups in order to gather qualitative information about the effectiveness and impact of the outreach activities we run. The selection of participants will always be arranged in consultation with their institution. All feedback provided during a focus group will be treated anonymously. Students will be given the option to opt-out if they do not wish to participate.
For a limited number of activities, we will send a postal questionnaire to parents / carers. This will be arranged in consultation with the participants’ institution.
Any personal information you give us will be processed by the Partnership Development Office, at the University of Kent, in accordance with the UK Data Protection Act 1998. Your data will be stored securely and any paper forms securely shredded.
We use your data for research purposes only, namely to monitor participation and evaluate the impact of the University of Kent’s outreach activities.
To help evaluate the effectiveness of this activity as part of the government policy to widen participation in higher education and to develop future policies, your data may also be shared with:
- Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)
- Higher Education Statistics Agency or the University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and our partners including colleges
- Higher Education Access Tracker service subscribers
- National Data Service.
The University of Kent aims to collect personal information only in order to meet specific research purposes, and to retain that information only for as long as those purposes remain valid.
What information does the University hold about me?
Under the Data Protection Act 1998 you have the right to a copy of the data held about you by us, for a small fee. If you have concerns about the use of the data for these purposes or would like a copy of the data you have supplied directly to us, please get in touch with us by following this link http://www.kent.ac.uk/infocompliance/dp/contact.html.