Background to Advancing Access
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Background to Advancing Access

Advancing Access was established as part of the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s (HEFCE) National Networks for Collaborative Outreach (NNCO) scheme. This aimed to encourage more young people into higher education.

The project was set up to complement and add value to the work of NNCO by identifying a particular issue – progression to leading universities. We therefore aim to provide specific support to schools and colleges with lower levels of progression to the highly selective universities. Advancing Access was launched as a pilot under the NNCO scheme in September 2016. The NNCO scheme ended in December 2016 and our university partners now fund the Advancing Access programme.

In 2018 a full evaluation of the Advancing Access project was published - this was completed by academic staff at Durham University. Commenting on the release of this report, Dr Tim Bradshaw, Chief Executive of the Russell Group, said:

“It's great to see thousands of teachers and career advisors signing up to Advancing Access and we hope many more will join in the months ahead.

“The Russell Group believes universities should be open to anyone with the ability and desire to attend, and that students from all walks of life should have access to the best advice and guidance to support their applications.

“Providing quality resources for teachers is central to this, and I am delighted the site is going from strength to strength.”

Details of academic evaluations of the Advancing Access project can be found below.


The Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring have published an evaluation of the pilot phase of the programme. This is available here.

A full independent academic evaluation of Advancing Access has been completed by staff at Durham University. This is available to download here.