Evaluations of universities’ employability programmes for TASO
TASO (Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education) is an independent charity that aims to eliminate equality gaps and improve lives in higher education through evidence-informed practice. In 2021, TASO commissioned an evidence review to identify effective approaches to reduce equality gaps for disabled students and to reduce the gap in employment and employability between underrepresented/disadvantaged students and other students.
In this context, TASO commissioned SQW and the University of Cambridge to conduct four evaluations – two each – of universities’ interventions designed to support disabled students or improve employability outcomes for students for disadvantaged and underrepresented groups.
SQW evaluated the University of Exeter’s Access to Internships (A2i) initiative using Contribution Analysis. The evaluation indicates that the availability of A2i has generated additional internships than would otherwise have taken place. Regression analysis found that the scheme is associated with improved employability outcomes for its participants over and above: i), students participating in other internships at six months after graduation and, ii), students not participating in any internships.
We also evaluated the University of Brighton’s Mentoring programmes using Propensity Score Matching and found it increased the likelihood of progression in the year that the student undertook mentoring.
The reports contain information that institutions can use when developing or refining their own programmes or evaluations of these, including findings regarding impact, and a wealth of technical information about methods and data. The evaluation of such interventions is conceptually complex and, in addition to quasi-experimental or even randomised methods, we feel that universities should continue to give due consideration to the role of theory-based evaluation in helping them understand impact.