This evaluation stems from an interest from those working on and administering the HEAR and DARE schemes into the effectiveness of the schemes in widening participation in higher education of under-represented groups. A focus of Irish Higher Education (HE) policy is orientated toward the objective of promoting equality of access to higher education, with particular targeted initiatives for under-represented groups. There has been extensive research conducted in Ireland on the issue of Widening Participation (WP), including various evaluative reports on access initiatives of recent years. In addition, universities and colleges have at times undertaken substantial research on their own access programmes and students. However, just three studies to date have focused on the experiences of the HEAR and DARE cohorts, programmes which have been in place in their current format since just 2009. This evaluation seeks address the gap in our knowledge of HEAR and DARE. The DARE/HEAR Strategic Development Group (SDG) has commissioned us to evaluate the following: • To what extent do the schemes meet the target groups’ requirements? • How do the schemes contribute to the realisation of institutional and national targets? and • What can be determined about the sustainability, scaleability and replicability of the schemes? In terms of the data from which this evaluation is based, we adopt a mixed method approach, drawing on a range of existing administrative data sources collected by the HEAR and DARE schemes, the Central Applications Office (CAO) and the Higher Education Authority (HEA); alongside new qualitative data.