Post 16, skills and higher education policy

Our expertise

We have expertise in many aspects of higher education (HE) policy, including

  • widening participation
  • the admissions system
  • the impact of tuition fees and bursaries
  • the Student Number Control policy introduced in 2012/13
  • the impact of student choice on institutional behaviours

Our broad portfolio of work in post 16, skills and higher education (HE) policy includes being on the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills Research Framework along with our colleagues in CRESR.

As a result, we have been awarded the contract to carry out research into the need for and capacity to deliver STEM related apprenticeship provision in England.

We have also been awarded a framework agreement contract with the Education Endowment Foundation. One of the first projects awarded under this is the pilot evaluation of ThinkForward – a coaching-based intervention designed to work with young people in Y10 and Y11 in danger of becoming not in education, employment or training (NEET) by the age of 16.

Staff undertaking this research are

  • Dr Colin McCaig
  • Sean Demack
  • Anna Stevens
  • Ben Willis
  • Claire Wolstenholme
  • Dr Carol Taylor

Work in the post-16 and skills agendas is led by Dr Colin McCaig and Dr Bronwen Maxwell.

Colin also leads the HE area, where he developing an international profile with his critical analyses of recent HE policy reforms. His publications focus on

  • the impact of market reforms, choice and competition on the English HE sector
  • content and discourse analyses of institutional access policy documents
  • comparative analysis of financial support regimes (bursaries and scholarships) over time and by institution type
  • comparative analyses of widening participation and fair access policies over time and internationally

Find out more
Email Colin McCaig at c.mccaig@shu.ac.uk phone 01142256062

Search our work


(Trans)gender identity awareness and support in Rotherham (2013–14)

This research on gender identity awareness and related support needs was commissioned by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council to inform service development.Methods employed during the research consisted of online surveys,...


The impact of homophobic and transphobic bullying on education and employment: A European survey (2013–14)

The international lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth and student organisation (IGLYO) commissioned this research on the impact of homophobic and


Evaluation of the mathematics continuing professional development (CPD) support programme managed by the NCETM

This involves an external evaluation of the NCETM programme focussing on the processes, outcomes and value for money to...


Evaluating the impact of number controls, choice and competition

To map and evaluate the impact of student number controls and increased fees on student profile and student learning environment. Impact measured on two scales1) institutional level of university and faculties2) on individual departments.We obtained accounts of the impact...


Reading for Pleasure

There are two projects within the Reading for Pleasure bundle Unitas and Booktrust. The studies use randomised controlled...


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