Document Abstract

Improving access for the most able but least likely: evaluation of the Realising Opportunities programme

Presents findings from an evaluation of the Realising Opportunities (RO) programme, a programme led by Newcastle University that involves a collaboration of universities who have made a commitment to sharing their practice in widening participation, fair access and social mobility. Explains that RO is a programme for Year 12/13 students with good academic attainment but from disadvantaged backgrounds and aims to encourage these students to consider going to research-intensive universities (RIUs). Describes the main elements of the programme – academic elements, skills (skills4uni), events/activities, and online student support. Draws on information from student surveys at different stages of the programme, and analysing application data from UCAS and higher education participation data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Reveals how the programme helped participants access higher education, and assesses their degree outcomes. Finds that: participation in RO increases students’ understanding of RIUs and university life, and makes them better prepared for university; the majority (84%) of participants apply to university at the end of Year 13, double the overall proportion of 18 year olds who apply; around one in three RO students attend RIUs, compared with one in four in the comparator group; nearly two thirds of RO students said that participation in the programme was important in encouraging them to go to university; 80% of the most recent graduates obtained firsts/2:1 degrees; and RO students have become more geographically mobile.


This document is not available to download directly from Research Online. Wherever possible a web link has been included to access the document via the publisher’s website - please check below. If not, the document can be obtained directly from the source organisation or publisher. Skills Development Scotland cannot guarantee that the organisation will not charge for the document.

Web link

View more documents

Other page options

Publication information

Williams, Matthew; Mellors-Bourne, Robin
Ref No:
Institute for Employment Studies (IES)

Download Adobe Reader

Notes for Idox Members

Get the latest updates from Skills Development Scotland