Higher education bursaries and performance: annual test scores, drop out and degree outcomes

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Quantitative Social Science

Abstract

Despite the huge outlay in bursary spending being carried out by universities since 2006/07 in response to controversy surrounding the introduction of the deferred tuition fee system and fears that low-income students would be deterred from applying to university (Barr, 2004), there remains little empirical evidence that bursaries are effective in encouraging low-income students - or indeed students from any background - to go to university. The only UK study examining the impact of bursaries on participation (Corver, 2009) found that bursaries have no significant effect on students' decisions. Students were in fact more likely to choose an institution with a low bursary than a high one basing their decisions on other factors such as prestige.
The aim of this project is to understand if there is any impact of higher education bursaries on educational outcomes of undergraduate students at all, by focusing on annual academic performance, drop-out rates and final degree classification.
Whilst it may be the case that bursaries have little impact on student participation decisions, providing financial support each year to students may have other positive impacts. In particular, the provision of bursaries may mean that students do not have to take up employment during study, or may have extra money to purchase academic materials. Thus, bursaries could have a positive impact on students' academic performance, such as 1) their likeliness to stay on at university, 2) their annual examination attainment, and 3) their degree classification. These are important issues for the government's widening participation agenda since they focus on the success of students from low income backgrounds once they are at university, in terms of degree continuation and attainment.
Publicly available data is unsuitable for this project, since information on bursary spending is aggregated at university level and is not linked to the academic performance of students. Therefore, I am in the process of collecting data from individual institutions over time, on the bursary awards of each of their undergraduate students. Alongside this I have information on each student's academic performance, as well as other information about the students such as their gender and ethnicity.
The effectiveness of bursaries would be evaluated by comparing individuals with similar characteristics (e.g. in terms of socio-economic background, ethnicity, gender) but receiving different levels of bursary due to the institution they are attending, or the year in which they attended university. In particular, there is wide variation in bursary spending by institutions (for example, spending on bursaries and scholarships ranged between 1% and 41% of universities' additional fee income in 2009) which should enable a robust estimation of the effectiveness of bursary spending.
As well as being important to the government's widening participation agenda, the research findings will clearly be of interest to policy-makers and practitioners in higher education; institutional spending on bursaries is high, and universities have taken very different approaches to the resources devoted to spending. Understanding whether this spending is effective and how it can be optimised is extremely important.
This research would also be of academic importance. It would contribute to the economic literature on the impact of spending on non-repayable student support, addressing whether cash incentives paid to students affect their performance at university. Furthermore, understanding how policy can affect academic performance is important for understanding how governments can promote human capital accumulation. This research has broad relevance because these issues are important across countries and the research design could be readily applied elsewhere.

Planned Impact

As well as the academic beneficiaries, this research has a number of non-academic beneficiaries. These are principally policy-makers, those working in the higher education policy field, and practitioners.
The research findings will be important to policy-makers in higher education (such as the Minister of State for Universities and his team). The research would inform them about the effectiveness of this important element of public policy - providing student aid in the form of bursaries to young people. It would enable them to make more informed decisions about strategies for student support, and to help them understand how effective bursaries are to the success of students from low income backgrounds, in terms of doing well at university, and completing their studies.

The findings will also be important for those working in the higher education policy field, such as the Office for Fair Access, the National Union of Students and The Sutton Trust. This research would be valuable to OFFA since they are responsible for approving and monitoring access agreements - in which universities and colleges set out the access measures they intend to put in place, a key component of which is bursary spending. The research would also help the NUS in their campaigning for the most effective support for students, and the Sutton Trust, whose main objective is to improve educational opportunities for young people from non-privileged backgrounds and increase social mobility.
In terms of practitioners, the research would be important to groups which represent institutions - such as Universities UK, Universities Alliance and the Million+ group, as well as the individual institutions themselves. Understanding the most cost-effective means of supporting disadvantaged students is essential to higher education institutions. They are compelled by the government to demonstrate they are attracting and supporting disadvantaged students, but must do so under strict budgetary controls.
Such benefits are likely to be realised immediately upon completion of the project, since the findings would be easily translatable into policy recommendations for these users regarding effective use of higher education bursary spending.

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
ES/L000105/1 07/10/2013 30/09/2014 £253,004
ES/L000105/2 Transfer ES/L000105/1 01/10/2014 30/09/2015 £164,681
 
Description UK universities currently spend £300m per year on bursary aid, yet little is known about the effectiveness or otherwise of this investment. The main aim of my project was to investigate whether bursaries have any impact on student performance at university. This aim has been met, and in addition the grant has generated several significant achievements, and has led to new opportunities, networking, and both academic and non-academic impact. These are detailed below.
Significant new knowledge has been generated: using data collected for this project and econometric techniques, I have identified a significant causal impact of bursary aid on student outcomes. My results suggest that each £1,000 of bursary aid awarded increases the chances of gaining a good degree by around 3 percentage points, driven by completion of the final year and module scores. My findings are the first evidence of a causal link between bursary spend and student outcomes at university, which has academic and policy relevance. I also calculate the optimal bursary spend. A third important finding is that there is little heterogeneity in the impact of bursaries, according to parental income or student ability. These discoveries constitute the main aims of the grant, and the findings are documented in my main working paper.
In a secondary, descriptive paper I show that the bursary system is inequitable; as a direct consequence of the decentralized nature of the system, there are vast inequalities in aid receipt among poor students. Nevertheless I also find evidence that the system is working efficiently.

I have significantly developed my research skills over the course of this project including in: instrumental variables, multiple regression discontinuity design, heavily parameterized regression design

The grant has resulted in the creation of a new research resource: the data collected are of high quality and the investment of time in cleaning and standardization means the data can be used by myself and others for related projects. The data are unique in that they contain several variables that are, to my knowledge, unavailable in other datasets (most notably student annual module scores) and allow the researcher to track student performance within university over time. A further resource - a centralized source of bursary by university - has been developed in conjunction with the Guardian student website.
The research conducted under the grant has opened up several new research questions (which can be answered using the data), such as: what are the drivers of student failure and dropout; what role does module choice play in student performance; how do students specialise in their degrees; what is the link between gender and student performance.

The grant has led to a new and important collaboration with a notable US academic, Dr Richard Murphy, Assistant Professor of economics at University of Texas at Austin (a top 10 worldwide economics dept.). Dr Murphy and I collaborated on the main bursaries paper. Future collaborations are planned with Dr Murphy based on the analysis and data collected as part of this grant. In addition, presentations of the bursaries work (most prominently at the NBER in Boston) has led to networking with prominent academics including Caroline Hoxby (Stanford), Susan Dynarksi (Michigan), Damon Clark (California, Irvine).
Exploitation Route In my Pathways to Impact statement, I identified 4 main stakeholders: universities, policymakers, academics, WP groups. I have connected with representatives from all of these groups and expect many of them to put my findings to use.
Universities: I provided each university in my study with an individualised report based on the findings. Moreover I have given presentations to the findings to Universities UK, and to 2 pan-university widening participation teams. I expect these teams to carefully consider the role of bursaries in their WP strategies, particularly given my finding that bursaries are effective tools to improve test scores and reduce dropout. Universities have had little guidance on the effectiveness of bursaries to date and the finding that they are effective should encourage them to invest in these forms of aid.
Policymakers: I have had discussions about my findings to individuals from BIS and HM Treasury. I expect these individuals to consider my findings from the perspective of offering guidance to universities; considering the role of bursaries in the context of national schemes (maintenance grants, loans) and in improving information about financial support to students.
Academics: I have discussed and presented my findings at many academic conferences and presentations in the UK, Europe and the US. My findings are of value to those academics studying the role of financial aid on college outcomes; this is particularly unique since the majority of work to date concerns the impact of aid on college participation. I am currently working with the UK data archive to make the dataset available (in an anonymised fashion, subject to agreement with individual universities and the data archive). This will be of value to the academic community.
WP groups: such as the Sutton Trust, the Bridge Group, OFFA. These groups have shown huge interest in my work, particularly in understanding how the decentralised nature of bursaries leads to inequality, and what can be done to improve information on bursaries to prospective students.
Sectors Education

URL http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1396.pdf
 
Description The key question addressed in this piece of research is whether university bursaries have a causal impact on outcomes, such as dropout and degree success. As I have only very recently published a working paper on these findings, the main impact of this work is still to emerge. However, preliminary findings have already had an impact on a non-academic audience. In the first year of the award, I provided each university who participated in the project with their own report on bursaries, personalized to their institution. I received a lot of very positive feedback on these reports. As well as this, I have regularly updated other parties on progress made. These parties include civil servants (including HMTreasury and BIS), and policymakers in the HE sector such as Universities UK and OFFA. Given that I have now produced a working paper outlining the main results of the project, I am now at the stage where i am ready to start feeding back the overall results of the project - i.e. the causal impact of bursaries on outcomes. As there is a great deal of conflicting information about the impact of bursaries on university outcomes, and since millions of pounds per year are spent by universities on bursaries, there is a lot of interest in the results of my research. The results of this award were disseminated via 2 dissemination methods. The first was a conference on student support, which took place in April 2016 in conjunction with the University of Durham. Several university practitioners (mainly in WP teams) attend the event, at which I presented the main findings of the research. This was a highly successful event attended by many practitioners involved in my research and has led to many future collaborations and discussions, such as with the widening participation teams at LSE and UCL. the second method of dissemination was a report which documented all the findings of the research, which I sent to all universities involved in this project. I have received much positive feedback on the usefulness of this report. Moreover this has meant dialogue has been kept open between myself and the participating universities. I also wrote a blog post for my network, www.economicsofhe.org and prepared a press release of the main findings, which received media attention in Times Higher Education.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Education
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Participation in Universities Alliance Review of HE finance
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Presentation of work on bursaries to practitioners and policy makers from universities
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact invited to present at a conference in Durham university presenting my work on the impact of higher education bursaries. the conference was attended by widening participation professionals from universities around the UK, as well as academics and policymakers.
 
Description Presentation to University of London Widening Participation Group
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact I was invited to present to this group of widening participation teams from universities across London. These individuals are responsible for bursary provision and decision making within individual universities. I presented descriptive statistics and overview of the bursaries project and we discussed the use of bursaries as an instrument for WP. The presentation was also attended by Les Ebdon and other individuals from OFFA. I improved the WP teams' understanding of how other universities use bursaries, and inequalities that can arise from a scheme that is devolved to universities. Many WP teams were not aware of these issues and will adjust their bursary provision accordingly. I have now joined the University of London Widening Participation Group network and so will have the opportunity to disseminate my final results to these practitioners.
 
Description Presentation to the Bridge Group
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact presented quantitative evidence on how the decentralised nature of bursaries creates inequality, and the impact of bursaries. Audience members included representatives from BIS and OFFA, as well as smll WP charities.
URL http://www.thebridgegroup.org.uk/policy-seminars/
 
Description Provision of personalised reports on bursaries to individual universities
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
Impact As an incentive for institutions to participate in the project, I offered each institution their own individualised report comparing their statistics and bursary performance to other universities in the sample. We have now prepared these reports and sent them to each university participating in the project. Feedback received has been encouraging and suggests universities will use the information we have provided them to improve their decision making.
 
Description Stakeholder Group
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in advisory committee
Impact I have organised a project stakeholder group, comprising key academics, policymakers and practitioners. The group comprises Professor Nicholas Barr, an eminent Professor of Economics and one of the key voices in HE finance over the last 2 decades; Professor Lorraine Dearden of the Institute for Fiscal Studies whose research has contributed hugely to the HE finance landscape, Paul Clark, Director of Policy at Universities UK, Steve Grundy, who runs the University of London Widening Participation Group, Cath Baldwin, head of Widening Participation and the London School of Economics, and Avi Bram, an economist from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. I was also joined by my academic colleagues Dr Richard Murphy of University of Austin, Texas and Claudia Hupkau of the LSE. At the stakeholder group's first meeting we discussed the extensive database I have created, as well as preliminary findings which show the inequalities arising from the disaggregated nature of the UKs bursaries policy. We also discussed potential deadweight loss associated with allocating bursaries on a means-tested basis, rather than one targeted at more vulnerable individuals (such as those with poor prior attainment). we also discussed potential mechanisms through which the bursary scheme may work - such as by alleviating the need for individuals to work during study. Following this discussion, Avi Bram from BIS put me in touch with individuals from BIS who are responsible for the Student Income and Expenditure Survey, which tracks work and study. I am now able to access this data and can therefore augment my findings with this research into this data, which will shed further light on my findings. The steering group was a great success, in terms of both disseminating findings of the project, influencing policy, and improving the chances of the project being a success.
 
Description UCL roundtable on higher education funding
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
URL https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/economic-affairs-committee...
 
Description affected widening participation strategy of university
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact I fed the results of my bursaries project back to university of Nottingham. The policy team dealing with bursaries are going to look carefully at my research when designing their policy
 
Description affected widening participation strategy of university
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact I fed the results of my bursaries project back to university of Durham. The policy team dealing with bursaries are going to look carefully at my research when designing their policy and confirmed my results will affect their strategy.
 
Description affected widening participation strategy of university
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact I fed the results of my bursaries project back to UCLy. They contacted me to let me know that they will be discussing the outcomes of my research with a view to gaining support for their bursary activities
 
Description affected widening participation strategy of university
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact I fed the results of my bursaries project back to Leeds university. They contacted me to let me know that they will be discussing (at their Taught Student Finance and Impact Group) the outcomes of my research together with a number of internal investigations within the context of discussing our financial support package into the future
 
Description discussion with Brightside trust in order to inform their submission to the HE green paper response
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description gave evidence to Scotland's Widening Access Commission
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
URL http://www.commissiononwideningaccess.co.uk/#!publications/ca60
 
Description input into OFFA call for evidence on the impact of financial support
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
URL http://www.offa.org.uk/publications/call-for-evidence-impact-of-financial-support/
 
Description met with UCL WP team to discuss future WP activities
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Title Higher education bursaries database 
Description We have now collected data from 25 universities, including 12 Russell Group universities and 13 non-Russell Group institutions. The data comprises the entire undergraduate population from at least 3 cohorts of students (starting in 2006) including basic demographics, parental background information, bursary awarded (including zeros), and university performance. With the help of my research assistant, I have made significant progress in cleaning and standardizing this dataset. The data was received by the universities in excel format, and since it was collected by each university individually there is no standardized format. We therefore have created a coding frame for each variable, and have produced a codebook so that the data can be easily understood by anyone working on the project, plus data from new universities can be entered into the project more easily. We have now imported data from 22 of the 25 universities into excel and fully cleaned and standardized this data. We have created 4 different datasets comprising information on i) student background characteristics and university performance ii) financial information iii) A-level and other entry qualifications iv) module scores so that datasets can easily be created focusing on certain elements of the project. In each case a single unique identifier has been created for each student that can link the datasets together. We have also created a standardized database which contains all the information above in one dataset. I have also began collecting a range of other data to augment the dataset collected from universities. This includes data on university quality and university entrance requirements by course. I am currently working with the UK data archive (Reshare) to make this dataset available to other researchers. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The primary purpose of this database is to enable research into the impact of higher education bursaries on student success, as per the ESRC funded project. The dataset we have built is custom-made for this research and I am confident we will generate robust results given our large sample size and excellent coverage of universities. This database will also be an invaluable resource for conducting research into many areas of HE. The database allows me to track students through their studies, with information on their performance each year, the performance of their peers, their university, subject of study and final degree success as well as a range of student characteristics. This is invaluable data which will be used for future papers, for example looking at degree success by gender. 
 
Description teaching to the test 
Organisation University of Texas at Austin
Department Department of Economics
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution myself and an economist from UT are working together on a research project looking at the impact of teaching to the test. My main role in the project is through my knowledge of evaluation methods.
Collaborator Contribution My collaborator will bring institutional knowledge and knowledge of the policy we are evaluating (a strike which affected teachers' likeliness to teach to the test)
Impact outputs are expected in 2017
Start Year 2016
 
Description which universities offer the most financial support? 
Organisation Guardian Media Group
Department Guardian News and Media
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution I collaborated with Guardian Student. I provided them with a database of every UK university, and the bursary provided by this university, over all income groups.
Collaborator Contribution Guardian Student agreed to compile the information and display it on the Guardian Student website, so that students would be able to compare the bursaries on offer at every UK university, depending on their parental income. The information is displayed on the Guardian Student website
Impact the creation of a comparison tool to enable students to compare bursaries on offer at every UK university. Such a resource has never been available before and so has significant value to students and society.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Centre for Economic Performance, Education Group Work in Progress Seminar. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact These are important seminars at the LSE, where researchers can present preliminary findings and the overview of their project to the rest of the team. I received a great deal of feedback from my colleagues on progress made in my bursaries project and possible next steps.

Most notably, I was invited to have a 1 to 1 discussion about the project with Professor Peter Dolton of the University of Sussex, who was present at the seminar. He gave me a good deal of advice about potential methods which could be used in the analysis.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Gill Wyness NCOP evaluation scoping group roundtable 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I attended the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP) evaluation scoping group.. this was to discuss ways of evaluating widening participation strategies nationally.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Gill Wyness Social Mobility Academic Reference Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I was part of the social mobilty academic reference group looking at ways to increase participation in higher education
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Gill Wyness call with Scottish Government 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact call with the Scottish Government working with the Secretariat of the Commission for Widening Access to support the new Fair Access Commissioner, Professor Peter Scott

As you may know, one of the COWA recommendations was for the new Commissioner to commission research on the impact of funding/finance for access to HE. I've been asked to do some scoping work on the kind of issues any research should aim to address and so I'm getting in touch with experts in the field to gather their views. Discussion about the economics of HE.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Gill Wyness meeting with Japanese higher education ministry 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact met with the Japanese higher education ministry to discuss bursaries and higher education finance
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Gill Wyness meeting with Sutton Trust 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact met with the Sutton Trust to discuss university admissions policies and their impact on disadvantaged students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Gill Wyness meeting with University Colleges Union 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact met with UCU to discuss my work on bursaries and other activities,. they have asked me to undertake a piece of work looking at the impact of using predicted A-levels instead of actual A-levels in HE participation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Gill Wyness meeting with the OECD 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has launched a new project to assess skill mismatch and skill shortages across countries, with the support of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. For the United Kingdom, the OECD will prepare an in-depth country-specific report which will examine the particular skill needs facing the United Kingdom; identify barriers to matching skill supply and skill demand; and highlight effective policies to alleviate skill imbalances. i was invited to the discussion because of my expertise in the UK HE sector.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Gill Wyness met with Sutton trust 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact met with Sutton trust to discuss the bursaries project. they are interested in commissioning additional work, looking at the impact of the abolition of maintenance grants, as a result of this meeting.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Gill Wyness met with head of HESA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact met with Paul Clark, CEO of HESA to discuss my work on HE participation access etc
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Gill Wyness Innovations in Higher Education conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I was invited to present at the Innovations in Higher Education conference in New Delhi, India, hosted by the British Council
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://cprhe.nuepa.org/international-seminar-%E2%80%9Cinnovations-financing-higher-education%E2%80%9...
 
Description Gill Wyness interview with sunday mirror 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact interview with sunday mail regarding scotland's educational performance and higher education in general
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Higher education, career opportunities, and intergenerational inequality 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact blog piece for www.economicsofhe.org
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://economicsofhe.org/2016/11/08/higher-education-career-opportunities-and-intergenerational-ine...
 
Description Organised a special session at the Royal Economic Society conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact I organised a special session at the Royal Economic Society conference on Widening Participation in higher education, with 4 colleagues from UCL Institute of Education.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.res.org.uk/event-listing/annual-conference.html
 
Description Presentation at the Association for Education Finance and Policy Conference, San Antonio, Texas 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact I presented descriptive statistics and overview of project at the conference which is attended by academics from across the world, interested in issues related to HE finance. My talk was part of a 4 paper session on HE finance, and so I was able to meet academics from across the world working on related issues.

the key impacts involved making improvements to the methodology and discussing solutions to econometric problems, as well as raising awareness of the project among academics. As a result of this presentation I have been contacted by 2 members of my session to discuss my work and share ideas about methodology. I am hopeful this may lead to future collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.aefpweb.org/annualconference/schedule
 
Description Presentation at the Royal Economic Society conference. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Presented descriptive statistics and overview of project as well as some preliminary findings from the project. had many discussions with academic peers working in related areas after the presentation and during the conference.

the key impacts involved making improvements to the methodology and discussing solutions to econometric problems, as well as raising awareness of the project among academics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.res.org.uk/view/0/2014conferencehome.html
 
Description Presentation to 'How does student financial support contribute to widening access and improving student retention and success?' conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented work on bursaries to this conference, which was sponsored by Universities UK, Edge Hill University and OFFA. Had many discussions with academics and policymakers after this presentation.

After my talk I was contacted by researchers at Durham university to present my findings at a Sutton Trust sponsored event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/events/Pages/StudentFinance.aspx
 
Description Presented at 1st IZA Workshop on the Economics of Education: Higher Education 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Presented bursaries work at the 1st IZA Workshop on the Economics of Education: Higher Education
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presented at International Workshop on Applied Economics of Education, Catanzaro, Italy. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Presented preliminary findings from the bursaries project. Spoke with many peers and colleagues following the presentation.

Dissemination among academics as well as advice and discussion on methodology were the most notable impacts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.iwaee.org/
 
Description Presented at Royal Holloway and Universities Alliance Workshop on HE finance 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presented descriptive statistics and overview of project as well as some preliminary findings from the project. This summit was attended by many prominent UK policy makers and journalists in the field of HE, including Nick Hillman, Director of HEPI and also Professor Bruce Chapman, a prominent academic in the field of HE finance from the Australian National University.

I discussed the bursaries project with Professor Chapman at length following the presentation. He is an international expert economist in this area and gave me excellent advice on methodology as well as policy concerns. He is also keen to receive updates as the project progresses.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.hepi.ac.uk/2014/06/18/expert-policy-seminar-june-2014/
 
Description Which? University: met with Louisa Darian, head of policy for Which? University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Met with Louisa Darian, head of policy for Which? university to discuss my higher education bursaries project. Which? is one of the most respected consumer brands in the UK, and their dedicated website Which?University is widely used by students and their parents to access information about higher education and higher education finance. therefore engaging with Which? is highly important for dissemination of the project to the wider public.

After talking to Louisa we agreed to keep in touch so that I could keep her updated regularly on the bursaries project. she will also be writing a piece on higher education finance for my higher education network blog.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://university.which.co.uk/
 
Description appeared on a panel at Bristol Festival of Ideas 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I appeared on a panel at the Bristol Festival of Ideas to discuss issues in higher education, alongside David Willetts (Resolution Foundation), Sandra McNally (CEP, LSE), Simon Burgess (University of Bristol) and Andy Westwood (University of Manchester)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.ideasfestival.co.uk/events/higher-education-decline-and-fall/
 
Description article in research professional on bursaries project and findings 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact wrote a piece for research professional about my research. after the blog I had a number of email enquiries

most notably I was contacted by HEFCE after they'd seen the blog, for more information about the projec.t.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.researchprofessional.com/0/rr/he/views/2015/10/Bursaries-and-their-failings.html
 
Description attended NBER conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Attended NBER conference in Boston. This is a highly prestigious, invitation only, conference for economists. I was invited as I previously presented a paper at this conference (on the impact of higher education bursaries). There is a very strong education group at this conference, led by Professor Caroline Hoxby. At the conference I met with, and discussed my work with, many renowned economists such as Judith Scott-Clayton and Susan Dynarksi.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://papers.nber.org/sched/SI17ED
 
Description blog piece on economicsofhe network, on bursaries project 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact wrote blog for economicsofhe website. was contacted by a number of academics afterwards for more information

was contacted by a number of academics afterwards for more information
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://economicsofhe.org/2015/12/04/are-we-giving-bursaries-to-the-right-students/
 
Description call with Times Higher Education about bursaries project 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact call with Times Higher Education to discuss new findings from my bursaries project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/larger-bursaries-boost-students-chances-getting-good-degre...
 
Description discussion with Student Loans Company 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact discussed data and project with head of partner services for Student Loans Company.

this discussion was hugely valuable for my research but also for the research of others trying to understand the technicalities of the UK financial aid system. such details are highly important for academic researchers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description discussion with the Bridge Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact discussed research with Bridge Group - a widening participation charity.

was subsequently asked to present at their meeting of WP practitioners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description long article in Guardian online on my bursaries project 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact blog for the guardian higher education network

was contacted by several academics afterwards, regarding presentations at conferences etc.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2014/nov/19/universities-bursaries-scholarships-...
 
Description long article in Times Higher on my bursaries project 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Bursaries work reported in Times Higher article. Was contacted by several academics as a result.

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/variation-in-value-of-student-bursaries-exacerbates-inequa...
 
Description meeting with Kevin Stange, University of Michigan 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact met with Kevin Stange of University of Michigan to discuss HE work and potential future collaborations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description meeting with Prof T Agasisti 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact meeting with Professor Agasisti to discuss our research into higher education and potential collaborations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description meeting with Sutton Trust and OfS 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact met with Conor Ryan, new OfS director of external relations, plus Carl Cullinane, Sutton Trust acting head of research and public policy to discuss my work around HE.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description meeting with Universities UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Met with universities UK to discuss current work looking at undermatch in higher education, and to discuss their current priorities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description met with Brilliant Club 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact discussed work on bursaries with Brilliant Club, educational charity

after talk I was asked to present at Brilliant Club annual conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description met with Dean Machin (UCL and Social Mobility Commission) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Discussed bursaries project, which led to discussion about availability of university level data.

Have been subsequently contacted by this group to provide evidence for their report on making university data available to researchers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description met with LSE WP team 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Met with LSE widening participation team to discuss potential future work evaluating a widening participation scheme in which sixth form students are given coaching on how to make better choices of university.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description met with LSE Widening Participation team 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I met with the LSE widening participation team to discuss the results of my work on bursaries, and any future work I might be able to do for them in this area.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description met with Million Plus group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact met with million plus group, who represent 19 UK universities, to discuss the project. the discussion sparked questions on the role of bursaries in WP and the use of them by million plus universities

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2015
 
Description met with National Audit Office 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact met with the national audit office to discuss a value for money study of the Department for Education's oversight of the higher education market. discussed whether students are empowered to act as effective consumers in the HE sector.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description met with Social Media Foundation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact discussed bursaries project with Emran Mian, director of Social Market Foundation. He was interested in the research to inform his future research plans, particularly concerning my data collection methodology.

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description met with UCL WP team to discuss HEAT 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Met with Amy Suddards. UCL WP officer to discuss HEAT - a datasource which links school pupils' participation in WP activities with university participation. Discussion sparked ideas for future research, evaluating WP activities including bursaries.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description met with UUK director of policy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact discussed bursaries project with Universities UK head of policy.

Dissemination, plus useful input into presentation of findings at UUK conference
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description met with editor of The Tab newspaper 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Met with the editor of the tab (a publication written by students at top universities) to discuss WP issues.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://thetab.com/
 
Description presentation at NBER 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact presented research at prestigious NBER education workshop. this is one of the most prestigious economics conferences in the US. gained a great deal of feedback and advice on the project.

I was contacted after my talk by a highly respected US academic who gave me advice on how to make my methodology more robust
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://conference.nber.org/confer/2015/EDf15/summary.html
 
Description presentation to HM Treasury 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presented bursary preliminary findings to researchers at HMTreasury

Have been asked to provide further information about my research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description presentation to HM Treasury 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact follow up presentation to treasury

presented new results of project to senior policy adviser at HMT
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description presentation to OFFA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact presented my work on bursaries to OFFA, the indepedendent watchdog responsible for university access
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description presentation to Oxford University QM Hub 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact presentation at Oxford University prestigious Quantitative Methods hub

gained excellent feedback on methods used in the research and how to improve my methodology / interpret findings
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.education.ox.ac.uk/qm/qm-hub-seminar-programme/previous-events/
 
Description presented at Education, Skills, and Labor Market Outcomes conference in Trondheim 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact presented bursaries work at conference Education, Skills, and Labor Market Outcomes organised by Norwegian Technical University,
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.svt.ntnu.no/iso/torberg.falch/Workshop/Final%20program%202016.pdf
 
Description spoke with Times Higher Education 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact media interview about new bursary scheme run by Cambridge college and my opinion of it based on my research on bursaries
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/cambridge-college-fund-disadvantaged-students-living-costs
 
Description visited Russell Sage Foundation New York 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Presented descriptive statistics and overview of project at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York. Presentation was attended by Dr Liz Washbrook (University of Bristol), Dr Bruce Bradbury (University of New South Wales) and Professor Jane Waldfogel (University of Columbia), all of whom are high-profile academics working in the field of intergenerational mobility and inequality on a global basis. This was a small group presentation which led to much discussion and debate. Therefore I was able to disseminate my work, and receive expert guidance on methodological aspects of the project.

Since the talk I have kept in touch with these high-profile academics. I have also made methodological advances as a result of their guidance.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description widening participation talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Did a talk on what it is like to be an economist, and on tuition fees and student loans, for a group of year 10 students at UCL, who are interested in studying economics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/economics/opportunities-school-and-college-students