NFER Evaluation of Realising Opportunities - Cohort 3

Helen Aston, Kelly Kettlewell

16 May 2014

NFER has undertaken an evaluation of the first three cohorts of Realising Opportunities (RO), beginning in 2009. As with the previous two cohorts, the evaluation of Cohort 3 gathered ‘baseline’ and ‘follow-up’ data on the students who started RO via surveys. In total, 428 of the 496 RO students returned a baseline survey and 194 returned a follow-up survey. The RO Central Team also gathered contextual data through the RO application process and UCAS data collected in June 2013, which we then analysed alongside the survey responses.

Key Findings

  • The evidence shows that RO has continued to strengthen its targeting of students who may not traditionally have gone to university, with nearly all students in Cohort 3 being the first in their family to potentially go into higher education.
  • The vast majority of students remained committed to following a university education throughout the RO programme, and by the end of their programme 93 per cent of those students who had applied to university had accepted a firm (first) offer from a university. The majority of students believed that RO had influenced their university choices to some extent.
  • Over the course of the RO programme, students’ understanding of research intensive universities increased significantly and, after completing the programme, the majority of students believed that it was important to attend one.
  • Students felt that RO had benefited them, particularly in the areas of: understanding of what a research intensive university is; study skills; ability to reference academic sources; knowledge about different courses at university; and ability to set goals.

For information on the other cohorts please visit:

  • Evaluation of Realising Opportunities Cohort 1
  • Evaluation of Realising Opportunities Cohort 2