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Insights: Driving evidence-informed change

Enhanced insights and analysis services to the sector and institutions to help identify strengths and challenges and the impetus for change.

We are specialists in higher education research. Our expert team can provide, qualitative, quantitative or mixed-methods offers, underpinned by sector-wide datasets from our student surveys and our sector-leading higher education statistical reports. We offer multi-pronged evaluation and a specialism in equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).  Whether you’re a sector agency, institute, university or another organisation with a higher education offer we will work with you to help higher education be the best that it can be.

Want to find out more?

If you would like to know more about Advance HE Insights, contact insights@advance-he.ac.uk or complete the form below and one of our team will be in touch.

Enquire

EDI is a freshly invigorated area for our institution and this review has been so valuable as it will enable us to refocus our intuitive approach using evidence-based lenses. We’re really looking forward to making differences where our staff tell us they will have the most impact.”

Vicky Bosward, Senior HR Business Partner, Edge Hill University

How we support institutions 

insights
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion audits
  • Desk-based literature reviews
  • Understanding hard-to-reach audiences
  • EDI stats reports and data collection guidance
  • Sector data advanced analysis
  • Programme and policy evaluations
  • Bespoke consultancy research - qualitative and quantitative
  • Student surveys

If you are interested in working with Advance HE's Insights Team please contact insights@advance-he.ac.uk

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Equality, diversity and inclusion audits

Our bespoke equality audits are designed to help institutions identify where the challenges lie and what works within their own context. These audits not only provide institutions with an overview of how equality and diversity are perceived and experienced in general, but also allow institutions the opportunity to sensitively explore equality characteristics which may have historically received less attention (such as sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion/belief).

Edge Hill University commissioned Advance HE’s Insights Team to conduct a bespoke EDI review of its policies and to gather qualitative staff experiences.

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Programme and policy evaluations

Some of our major pieces of work involve large-scale evaluations of major sector or institution-wide initiatives. With our sector-wide lens and specialism in both quantitative and qualitative research methods, evaluation is a main focus of what we do.

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Bespoke research – quantitative and qualitative

Solving the most complex research problems requires the most appropriate methods and often a combination of rich detail and robust data. With our expertise in conducting primary research through in-depth interviews and focus groups as well as designing and analysing some of the largest surveys in the sector we can offer a fully combined qualitative and quantitative offer.

Our researchers are experienced in using analytical software including
Atlas.ti and SPSS which offer a broad range of advanced techniques.

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Student surveys

The student surveys from Advance HE have engaged with over 170,000 students over the last two years. Our surveys help institutions understand and enhance student experience and engagement, benchmark performance, and pinpoint where interventions are most needed. Advance HE's student surveys are:

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Team members 

Jonathan Neves

Head of Business Intelligence & Surveys

Jonathan joined Advance HE in 2015, bringing with him 16 years’ experience in customer insight and market research. Jonathan graduated from the University of Liverpool with a degree in Geography, and is a full member of the Market Research Society. Heading up the insights and student surveys portfolio at Advance HE, Jonathan is co-author of the Advance HE-HEPI Student Academic Experience Survey report, and is responsible for the overall strategy for the UK Engagement Survey as well as the Postgraduate Taught and Research Experience Surveys (PTES and PRES). Jonathan has also worked across the sector collaborating on the use of the UK Engagement Survey within Learning Gain pilots.

Contact Jonathan Neves
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Amanda Aldercotte

Head of Knowledge & Research (currently on maternity leave)

Amanda has led Advance HE’s research team since November 2017 and over the course of the last three years has helped establish the team’s unique position as qualified researchers working within the realms of higher education and equality, diversity and inclusion. Under her management, the team has been awarded several large high-profile grants including two extensive evidence reviews for UK Research and Innovation, assessing the key challenges for equality, diversity and inclusion, and identifying what types of interventions are more effective, both in the UK and internationally.

 

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Hannah Borkin

Mixed Methods Researcher

Hannah Borkin joined Advance HE’s Research team in February 2019 and has since led on a number of externally funded equality, diversity and inclusion research projects. This includes conducting bespoke equality audits of UK-based HE providers. The audits involve undertaking reviews of EDI policies to ensure they are compliant and competitive, as well as conducting focus groups for students and staff. She is also managing the evaluation for the OfS Evaluation of Catalyst Funding, investigating ‘What works?’ in student safeguarding related to religious based hate crime/harassment. Hannah is also the project manager for the recently established Disabled Students' Commission, and looks forward working with the Commissioners to improve equity of outcome for all disabled students. This project is complimented by Hannah’s keen interest in student mental health, and has previously worked with the Institute for Employment Studies conducting research for the Department for Education on a student mental health survey.

Contact Hannah Borkin
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Hannah Griffin-James

Researcher (Quantitative)

Hannah is a PhD graduate who is experienced in managing complex research projects in higher education. Her expertise lies in advanced quantitative statistics, previously working on large global surveys as a post-doctoral research associate and analyst in market research. Hannah is interested in demystifying research, and enjoys using statistics to understand perceptions, attitudes and values.

Contact Hannah Griffin-James
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Jason Leman

Surveys Executive

Jason is Surveys Executive at Advance HE and has worked on the designing, gathering and reporting of student feedback for over 15 years. Jason’s main interest is in exploring how the complex and diverse student experience can be evidenced and communicated to aid enhancement.

Contact Jason Leman
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Maddie Pitkin

Research & Insight Executive

Maddie is Research and Insights Executive at Advance HE and a Market Research Society (MRS) accredited researcher. Prior to joining Advance HE in January 2020, Maddie worked at Ipsos MORI, where she worked with a range of public and private sector clients based both in the UK and globally. Maddie has also worked as a Research Analyst at the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). Maddie now works across all aspects of Advance HE’s core surveys.

Contact Maddie Pitkin
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Anne Rowan

Mixed Methods Researcher

Anne joined Advance HE in 2021 as a mixed-methods researcher. She has over 10 years’ professional work experience, developing expertise and knowledge in Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) at both a national and international level. Anne is in the final stages of completing a PhD in Education focusing on capturing the experiences of international students with physical disabilities/mental health conditions in UK Higher Education.  She has been involved in, and led, several EDI high profile research projects within higher education and has vast experience in researching, scoping, and designing EDI enhancement projects. Her main interests lie in EDI considerations in HE, with a special focus on issues related to disability, race equity, gender equality, mixed-methods research design and project evaluation.  

Contact Anne Rowan
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Peny Sotiropoulou

Mixed Methods Researcher

Panagiota (Peny) Sotiropoulou completed her PhD in Human Geography in 2018, exploring Greek pre-service teachers’ multicultural competence and factors influencing its development at Loughborough University, before working as a part-time Geography lecturer there. She then moved on to work as an evaluation researcher for Prosper project, before joining her current role as a mixed-methods researcher for the Insights team in September 2021. Her main interests lie in EDI considerations in HE, with a special focus on issues related to race and ethnicity and her areas of specialisation involve mixed-methods research designs, impact and theory-based evaluations. In general, she loves to get involved in initiatives related to promoting equity in education as well as to work on collaborative projects, co-creating with partners from various backgrounds.

Contact Peny Sotiropoulou
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Associates 

Nkasi Stoll

Associate

Nkasi's research centres around anti-Black racism, Critical Race Theory in the education and psychology context, and Black student mental health. Nkasi is also the Co-Founder of Black People Talk, and Director of Black Students Talk; which designs, delivers and evaluates mental health support groups and resources by and for Black students. Nkasi is a final year PhD candidate at King's College London and Research Lead for the Black Student Wellbeing Study. Her research centres around anti-Black racism, Critical Race Theory in the education and psychology context, and Black student mental health. Nkasi is also the Co-Founder of Black People Talk, and Director of Black Students Talk; which designs, delivers and evaluates mental health support groups and resources by and for Black students. 

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Carla Startin

Associate

Carla has worked as a quantitative researcher since 2009. She undertook her PhD and a post-doctoral research project at UCL, both of which were in Cognitive Neuroscience / Psychology topics, and these provided her with a solid experience in terms of study and questionnaire design, statistical analysis using SPSS (including factor analysis, ANOVA, regression, and analysis of categorical data), and writing up publications / presenting results at conferences. Carla worked as a quantitative researcher at Advance HE in 2019, where she undertook statistical analysis and writing reports for several projects, including the production of the annual statistical reports on HE staff and students, bespoke research projects assessing equality within University departments, and the production of multiple summary reports of work assessing the effectiveness of interventions to improve equality. Carla has also worked as a Psychology lecturer since 2018 - as a part of this role she prepares and delivers lectures, convenes modules, supervises students, and contributes towards some aspects of programme management.

Who we work with 

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Disabled Students' Commission

The Disabled Students’ Commission (DSC) was announced by the former Universities Minister in June 2019 and was formed in March 2020. This independent and strategic group takes responsibility for advising, informing and influencing higher education providers to improve support for disabled students. Advance HE has responsibility for providing secretariat support, as well as overseeing the management, coordination and dissemination of research and other DSC outcomes.

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Disabled Students Commission

Contact us 

If you have any questions about Advance HE Insights please get in touch by emailing insights@advance-he.ac.uk.

Resources

Equality in higher education: statistical reports

Advance HE's statistical reports provide equality data on staff and students within UK higher education, and students in Scottish colleges. Now in its 14th year, our annual Equality in Higher Education: Statistical Reports aim to assist the sector in better understanding the main equality challenges for higher education institutions.

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HE Stats Report
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Ethnicity awarding gaps in UK higher education in 2019/20

Advance HE has published data and findings related to the size of ethnicity awarding gaps (the difference in proportions of white and students awarded a first/2:1 degree) since 2005 as part of our annual Equality in higher education statistical reports. However, this is the first dedicated report which explores ethnicity awarding gaps in detail across individual and course-level characteristics, specifically for the 2019-20 cohort of qualifiers.

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Ethnicity Awarding gap
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Data collection guidance

Collect and analyse equality data to identify areas for action and meet legal requirements.

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Leader working
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