NFER Evaluation of Realising Opportunities - Cohort 1

Emily Lamont, Helen Aston, Kelly Kettlewell

16 May 2014

Realising Opportunities (RO) is a unique collaboration of leading universities, working together to encourage and support the 'most able but least likely' students to apply to research intensive universities. NFER has undertaken an evaluation of the first three cohorts of RO. The first Cohort of students enrolled in 2010 and completed the programme in summer 2011. The evaluation included baseline surveys of 194 students (a 62 per cent response rate), and follow-up survey completed by 126 students. We also analysed UCAS data and contextual data on the background of the students.

Key Findings

  • The programme was successful in recruiting those it was intended to benefit: those students who were most able but least likely to apply to research intensive universities.
  • There is a high rate of application to the RO partner universities, demonstrating that the majority of the Cohort 1 participants have aspired and applied to leading universities.
  • The students feel that they are well informed about their higher education options. They are more likely to understand what a research intensive university is, as well to consider it important to apply to such universities at the time of the follow-up, than they were at baseline.
  • Beneficiaries of RO state that RO has improved their study skills, as well as other skills that are central to success in a research intensive university.

For information on the other cohorts please visit:

  • Evaluation of Realising Opportunities Cohort 2
  • Evaluation of Realising Opportunities Cohort 3