PURPOSE: Recovery Colleges (RCs) have been implemented across England with wide variation in organisational characteristics. The purpose of this study is to describe RCs across England in terms of organisational and student characteristics, fidelity and annual spending, to generate a RC typology based on characteristics and to explore the relationship between characteristics and fidelity.

METHODS: All RC in England meeting criteria on recovery orientation, coproduction and adult learning were included. Managers completed a survey capturing characteristics, fidelity and budget. Hierarchical cluster analysis was conducted to identify common groupings and generate an RC typology.

RESULTS: Participants comprised 63 (72%) of 88 RC in England. Fidelity scores were high (median 11, IQR 9-13). Both NHS and strengths-focussed RCs were associated with higher fidelity. The median annual budget was £200,000 (IQR £127,000-£300,000) per RC. The median cost per student was £518 (IQR £275-£840), cost per course designed was £5,556 (IQR £3,000-£9,416) and per course run was £1,510 (IQR £682-£3,030). The total annual budget across England for RCs is an estimated £17.6 m including £13.4 m from NHS budgets, with 11,000 courses delivered to 45,500 students.

CONCLUSION: Although the majority of RCs had high levels of fidelity, there were sufficiently pronounced differences in other key characteristics to generate a typology of RCs. This typology might prove important for understanding student outcomes and how they are achieved and for commissioning decisions. Staffing and co-producing new courses are key drivers of spending. The estimated budget for RCs was less than 1% of NHS mental health spending.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Early online date11 Mar 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Mar 2023


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