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


Tackling homophobia and transphobia in settings supporting young people: What are the barriers and facilitators? (2011)

This project explored homophobia, transphobia and issues about related identity-based bullying and emotional/mental health in a number of youth settings, including schools and statutory youth services, and a...


Leicester city sex and relationships education audit (2010)

This project involved an audit of SRE provision for 0–19 year olds in Leicester and the subsequent development of a city-wide strategy.The methodology included documentary analysis, a survey of young people and follow-up...


A qualitative exploration of the role of baby clinics in supporting infant feeding (2010)

This project funded by Stockport PCT involved a series of interviews with first-time mothers and fathers (including teenage parents) about their experiences of services and support in relation to pregnancy, parenting and infant feeding, and observations in baby clinic settings. The report was...


Life and health: An evidence review and synthesis for the Equality and Human Rights Commission's Triennial Review 2010

This piece of work was an evidence review and synthesis on LGBT life and health to inform the Equality and Human Rights Commission's Triennial Review 2010.


School Meals

The research (jointly commissioned by Rotherham MBC and NHS Rotherham)


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