Registration is closed for this event
April 20th, 2021 11:00 AM through  1:00 PM

The Uni Connect Programme (UCP, formerly NCOP) aims to rapidly increase the number of young people progressing to Higher Education from wards where participation is low given levels of attainment. Funded by the Office for Students, the national programme is made up of 29 locally focussed partnerships, that bring together Universities, Colleges, and other partners to work with target learners in their region.

The purpose of this event is to provide a forum for local UCP evaluators to present the evaluative work undertaken by their partnerships, with broader discussions of how this work feeds into the wider evidence base for widening access to Higher Education in England. The session will be made-up of an introductory paper to set the UCP in a domestic and international context, followed by impact focussed papers from UCP evaluators, and a Q&A panel session reflecting on the local evaluation of the programme to date. The session will conclude with a look ahead to the close of Phase 2 and the future of collaborative outreach in England.



Talk / Speaker

11.00 – 11.15

Introduction to the UCP: Domestic Context, International Relevance? – Greg Brown

11.15 – 11.45

Paper 1 - Applying the NERUPI Framework to undertake a local impact evaluation of the York & North Yorkshire Uni Connect Programme – Rebecca Harland

11.45 – 12.15

Paper 2 - The local evaluation of the Greater Manchester Higher Programme – Mark Burke

12.15 – 12.25


12.25 – 12.55

Panel Q&A – what has the NCOP/UCP taught us?


Wrap-up – look ahead


Paper Details

Introduction Paper

What is the Uni Connect Programme? This short introductory paper gives background to the programme and sets it within both a domestic and international policy context.


Paper 1

With ever-increasing calls for evidence of impact in widening participation, this presentation explores the adoption of the Bourdieu-informed NERUPI framework in the programme design of the York & North Yorkshire Uni Connect Programme (known locally as FutureHY), and subsequent utilisation of this praxis-based framework within programme evaluation.


FutureHY’s theory of change and Progression Framework (which incorporates NERUPI) will then be utilised to present an overview of the evaluation of some of the programme’s key outreach interventions. The evidence, through a contribution analysis, suggests positive short to medium-term outcomes for participants relating to the five NERUPI pillars; Know, Choose, Become, Practise, and Understand. Discussion of these outcomes will lead to an exploration of some of the challenges faced around gathering evidence and demonstrating the medium-longer term outcomes of the project given the often-bespoke nature of delivery, which differs by each participating school, college, or community group. As we look forward to Phase 3 of the Uni Connect Programme, this presentation concludes by outlining some of the opportunities for development of current approaches and the potential for the local adoption of new evaluative practices.


Paper 2

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, evaluation data could be collected by the snap of your fingers using the force and the evidence of impact you required only needed a ‘Yes’ by the raising of your lightsabre. Unfortunately, the life of a Uni Connect evaluator on planet Earth is much more complex than that. There is no forcing the data out of your participants and lightsabres are in very short supply.

This presentation will discuss the approaches that Greater Manchester Higher (GMH) has taken to continuously embed the shifting focuses of policy within its partnership evaluation strategies and will attempt to present key topics for evaluators to address in preparation for Phase 3 where the measures of success will take another or several turns.



Greg Brown – HeppSY

Rebecca Harland – FutureHY

Mark Burke – Greater Manchester Higher


Speaker Details

Greg Brown, Evaluation and Data Manager – HeppSY (Higher Education Progression Partnership South Yorkshire)

Greg manages the evaluation and data team at HeppSY - and is responsible for overseeing and undertaking the local evaluation of the programme. Prior to this, he worked as an evaluator and researchers at The University of Sheffield’s Widening Participation Research and Evaluation Unit (WPREU).


Rebecca Harland, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer – FutureHY (York & North Yorkshire Uni Connect Programme)

Rebecca is responsible for monitoring and evaluation across the York & North Yorkshire Uni Connect Partnership. She is also an experienced widening participation outreach practitioner and, prior to WP roles, worked for several years within a higher education management team in an FE college.


Mark Burke, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager – Greater Manchester Higher

Mark Burke is the Monitoring & Evaluation Manager for the Uni Connect Partnership Greater Manchester Higher – where he has worked for the last four years. As his job title alludes, he has overall responsibility for the collection and analysis of data across the network and for the provision of reports that help the programme to show the impact of its activities.

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