Image courtesy of the University of Kent

What is the HEAT Service?

The Higher Education Access Tracker (HEAT) Service is a national non-profit-making collaboration between Higher Education (HE) outreach providers that is owned and developed by members. HEAT provides a monitoring and evaluation service for member institutions engaged in widening participation (WP) to HE, providing efficient and cost-effective data management, analysis and reporting of all aspects of their outreach activities. At the heart of the HEAT Service is outreach participant data collection and tracking. An online database is available for subscribing Higher Education providers (HEPs) and organisations that deliver outreach to widen participation. On behalf of its membership, HEAT negotiates access to educational data to investigate what happens to outreach participants. The Service then disseminates this information to its members, using the data collectively to underpin research into relationships between outreach participation and key student outcomes – including HE entry and success in HE.


HEAT membership provides a wide range of benefits, including:

  • Sharing costs and minimising duplication of effort
  • An online data repository with a range of features and tools designed for outreach teams
  • Set-up and ongoing training (a mixture of face-to-face, online and resource-based)
  • A ticket-based Helpdesk providing support via email and telephone during regular working hours
  • Networking opportunities via regular Member Forums, Data Users Network meetings and Research Group workshops
  • Access to various aggregate datasets, infographics and reports
  • Track Reports (both detailed reports for individual members and aggregate reports for all HEAT organisations)
  • An opportunity to shape future research using aggregate data (including collaboration on thematic research projects)
  • Contributing to building evidence on the impact of outreach


The HEAT database is a shared, central, online repository and reporting tool that has been developed collaboratively with members to provide a web-based data-capture system that tracks student engagement in WP outreach activities delivered by each subscriber organisation. The database helps users to plan and monitor WP events as well as capture individual information for the creation of student participation datasets. The system also allows its members to target individuals and/or institutions, monitor outreach programmes, capture cohort information and produce evaluative questionnaires. By monitoring the complete student life-cycle (often referred to as longitudinal tracking), the HEAT database provides participating organisations with an unsurpassed ability to evaluate and evidence their own WP activities as well as accessing  aggregate data generated from over 80 HEIs, NCOP consortia and charities.


The HEAT Track is an ongoing longitudinal tracking study whereby outreach participants recorded on the HEAT database are tracked through a range of administrative datasets to provide data showing their educational outcomes. The tracking ‘jigsaw’ on the right illustrates the educational datasets through which HEAT tracks participants. The coloured sections of the jigsaw reflect the range of agencies through which the data are accessed.



Reporting and research

HEAT subscribers enjoy access to a wide range of reports, datasets and research. Further information is available to interested parties on request (Contact us).