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This HEPI blog was kindly authored by Anna Anthony, Co-Director at the Higher Education Access Tracker (HEAT) Service.

HEAT provides a collaborative system which enables member higher education providers to evaluate the work they deliver as part of their Access and Participation Plans as easily and efficiently as possible.

At a recent partnership event, John Blake, Director for Fair Access and Participation at the Office for Students (OfS), spoke about the important role of collaboration in increasing equality of opportunity in English higher education. Owing to the benefits successful partnerships can, and do, bring to the sector, John announced the OfS’s intention to strengthen regulatory requirements in relation to partnership. The OfS now expect providers to consider partnerships in all the activity listed in their Access and Participation Plan (APP), putting collaboration at the forefront of the work they are doing.

Collaboration is just as important when it comes to evaluating an APP, as it is to delivering the interventions listed within it. One key reason for this is the quantity of resource it takes to do it well. And given the financial situation faced by most, judicious use of resource and the associated costs, is top of the agenda.

Evaluation is resource intensive, there is no getting away from it, and evaluating all parts of an APP will take a significant amount of staff time. It thus makes sense to collaborate and pool resources – something that providers have been doing for over ten years now through collaborative evaluation systems such as HEAT.

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