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 phone 01142256062

Search our work


The full title of this prjoect is - School 21 and Cambridge University: Developing an oracy programme. We undertook an...

Independent Review Panel and First-Tier Tribunal Exclusion Appeals System

This was a qualitative research project to compare the experiences of parties involved in challenges to permanent exclusion decisions through independent review panels with those pursued through the First-tier Tribunal from September 2012. This involved face to face interviews with...

Investigation of Key Stage 2 Level 6 tests

An evaluation of how schools implemented Level 6 tests for Year 6 pupils. This used a case study based approach, conducting interviews with staff and pupils in 20 primary schools to examine practice and impacts of engagement with Level 6 tests.Dates: May 2012 - November 2012

Evaluating the impact of Grants

Analysis of the return on investment of various National College Grants (NLE, LLE, SS, TS grants etc). Using qualitative methods to set up...

Stronger Together

Working with local schools to develop joint KE projects to support pupil outcomes. Evaluated by CEIR with an aim to develop models of working that are financially sustainable in the future.

Featured staff profiles

Principal research fellow
Research Fellow
Deputy head of CEIR / principal lecturer in professional development
Senior lecturer in sociology