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


Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education: A mapping study of the prevalent models of delivery and their effectiveness (2009–11)

This large national government-funded study mapped delivery models of PSHE education in primary and secondary schools in England, together with their effectiveness.The project included a nationally representative survey of primary...


Mapping Bradford Tic Tacs: An evaluation of school-linked health services for young people (2009–10)

This joint project with the University of Sheffield mapped and subsequently evaluated school-based health-related service provision across Bradford, examining their impact and effectiveness on young people’s wellbeing.The project explored a number of areas in relation to...


Leicester city sex and relationships education post-16 review and gap analysis (2009)

This project involved a review and gap analysis of SRE provision in the city (based on survey responses), follow-up interviews and discussion groups with stakeholders (young people, Leicester City Council and service providers), and offered...


School-linked sexual health services for young people (SSHYP)

A survey and systematic review concerning current models, effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and research opportunities (2007–10)This joint project with the University of Sheffield was funded by the National Institute for Health Research’s Health...


Pathways into parenthood: Reflections from three generations of teenage mothers and fathers (2006)

This research study explored the attitudes, experiences and aspirations of three generations of teenage mothers and fathers in South Yorkshire, including experiences of sex education and access to services. Research methods included biographic-narrative interviews, discussion groups and...


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