Uniac - July 2022

28 APPs set out how higher education providers will improve equality of opportunity for underrepresented groups to access, succeed in and progress from higher education. Plans should address the widest gaps a provider has identified in its assessment of performance. In OfS' words: A provider's plan must demonstrate a clear overarching theory of change. It must show how the assessment of performance has informed the strategic aims, objectives and targets which in turn have determined the strategic measures and investment necessary to deliver them, underpinned by robust evaluation. A provider's targets must directly reflect the aims and objectives detailed in the plan, and be sufficiently ambitious to make a meaningful and effective contribution to the promotion of equality of opportunity The OfS monitors APPs to ensure that the providers honour their commitments to students in these plans. Each provider is expected to publish and submit to the OfS an access and participation impact report each year. Where appropriate, this may be accompanied by an action plan which sets out any improvements to its strategy. As a result of an assessment of APPs by the OfS, only 12 providers received no regulatory intervention. 142 providers received a formal communication, 79 were subject to enhanced monitoring requirements, and five received one or more specific ongoing conditions of Registration when they were registered (some specific conditions have now been removed as the required actions have been completed). Two plans were not approved by the Director for Fair Access and Participation. The high number of interventions applied to this condition reflects the fact that fair access and participation is a key objective for the OfS. An Access and Participation Plan, covering fair admission and progression and attainment targets, is more than a list of objectives and data and particularly impactful for smaller and specialist institutions. Some ways in which they might prove challenging are in their: • methodology. Creating an APP may require significant transformation for some institutions, from operational changes (such as admissions processes) and data and reporting functions19 to impacting core mission, values, and culture. The OfS states that there must be a whole-provider approach to meeting their access and participation strategic aims and objectives 19 Regulation of access interacts with other parts of the regulatory framework, such as governance, outcomes and finances. Expenditure relevant to access will be submitted elsewhere by providers as part of ongoing financial conditions (D) and therefore there must be a read across for several statutory reports . 4. An APP in Context