Research and Evaluation

RO has a robust evaluation framework in order to build an evidence base for the work of the Partnership. The framework is focused on gathering a mix of qualitative and quantitative information and evidence from students, teachers, parents, HEIs, the national pupil database and UCAS.


In December 2013, the Institute for Effective Education, RO’s independent evaluators, reported:

  • Partnership working and collaboration have been central to the programme since it was first introduced, and it is this that makes it different from many other widening participation projects.
  • Participants appreciate the coherence of the programme.
  • The proportion of students applying to universities (generally) and RIUs specifically are encouraging.
  • Awareness of research intensive universities amongst participating students has increased across the cohorts.

The National Foundation for Educational Research conducted evaluation into the impact of the programme on the first three groups of RO students. They found that:

  • Realising Opportunities was meeting its aims and objectives in that most students applied to and accepted firm offers from universities. The proportion of students applying to research intensive universities, and in particular RO partner universities, was high across the three cohorts.
  • In all three cohorts, students’ knowledge of research intensive universities increased after completing the programme, as did their understanding of the importance of applying to such universities.
  • Students from across the three cohorts cited similar benefits of participating in RO. Students believed they had developed the skills to be successful in a research intensive university, including: study skills; ability to reference academic sources; knowledge about different courses at university; and ability to set goals.
  • In all cohorts, students also showed a greater satisfaction with the independent advice and guidance they have received after their involvement with RO compared with before they started on the programme.

To read the full reports please click here

The collaborative work of this unique Partnership has also been independently evaluated, by Critical Thinking, who in their final report concluded “the Realising Opportunities partnership is thriving and delivering its outcomes as intended”. Critical Thinking are now evaluating the impact of recent expansion on the RO Partnership.