Our approach to APPs: Assessment of Performance

Posted in: Bath's approach to Access and Participation Plan development

The Assessment of Performance (AoP) is an important part of the Access and Participation Plan (APP) and one that informs the targets and objectives within the plan.

In the ideal timeline of producing an APP the AoP comes after the consultations and produces a list of Identifications of Risks to equality of opportunity (termed manifestations of risks in early versions of the consultation). In reality we undertook the assessment of performance at the same time as the consultations.

The assessment of performance is an analysis of your own data, and it shows where the risks to equality of opportunity are shown at your university. We had grand plans when we started our AoP we wanted to get into the depths of the data and really get to the bottom of any and all challenges. We thought we could link data from OfS with internal data and other dataset such as NSS, Graduate Outcomes etc. That would have been a wonderfully comprehensive dataset, but the reality soon set in that although in many cases it was technically possible, the reality of the timeline meant we couldn't. We soon settled on focusing just on the APP dashboard data from the OfS website. We knew ultimately this was data OfS had access to and the data we were being judged against. We rebuilt the dashboard using the rebuild instructions. This allowed us to build our own dashboards and answer our own questions.

We started with individual characteristics and then moved to intersectionality, identifying gaps between groups and producing a list of Indicators of Risk. We had some challenges with intersectionality. Its easy to understand what the data is saying for groups of characteristic X when comparing to characteristic Y . Usually there’s a gap, Group X is less likely than group Y to do something. But when looking at intersectionality the comparisons become a lot more complicated. Let’s take ethnicity and IMD as an example. The question is, is there a gap in degree outcomes for Black students from IMD Q1?  So who are we comparing to – the whole student population? Students from other ethnicities from IMD Q1, Black students from IMD Q5? Then there is the question of compounding effect. Does having multiple characteristics mean your risk to equality of opportunity is compounded or are you ‘just’ feeling the effect of one of the characteristics?

We therefore just focused on individual characteristics and the Indicators of Risk in our APP represent this. We plan to undertake a statistical analysis of several years of data using a group of experts across the university. We hope the academic research approach to the challenges will help us and others across the sector be able to work out whether students with intersectional characteristics ‘feel’ a compounding effect of those characteristics and that we can begin to understand why this could be.

Our detailed analysis of all the Indicators of Risk lead to the production of PowerBi files, multiple excel sheets and masses of cells of data. To summarise in the APP we took the approach of trying to make it readable by our target audience, a lay person e.g. students and parents. We themed the AoP by characteristic and highlighted the areas where we felt there were Indicators of Risk to Equality of Opportunity, telling as clear a story as we could while representing the data.

You can see our AoP in our published APP at - http://go.bath.ac.uk/access-and-participation-plan


This blog is part of a series of blogs about how we prepared our new Access and Participation Plan for wave 1 submission in 2023.

Posted in: Bath's approach to Access and Participation Plan development