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UKPIs seek to provide:

  • reliable information on the nature and performance of the UK HE sector
  • the basis for comparisons between individual institutions of a similar nature, where appropriate
  • benchmarks for use in institutions’ consideration of their own performance
  • evidence to inform policy developments
  • information that contributes to the public accountability of the HE sector.

All UKPIs are currently published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), who produce the measures on behalf of the four UK funding bodies for HE.

History and oversight

In 1998, the Government asked the four UK funding bodies to develop suitable indicators and benchmarks of performance in the HE sector, bearing in mind the diversity of the sector and the needs of different stakeholders.

HEFCE published the first set of UKPIs in their current form in December 1999, on behalf of all four UK funding bodies. We continued to publish the indicators annually until 2003, with additions and amendments as the coverage was extended.

Since 2004 HESA has published the UKPIs, in much the same format as indicators previously produced by HEFCE.

The UK Performance Indicators Steering Group (UKPISG) has overseen the management and development of the UKPIs since their inception. The group brings together representatives of the four UK funding bodies for HE, HESA, Government departments, HE institutions and other interested bodies to steer the development of these measures. It receives advice on technical implementation from the UK Performance Indicators Technical Group.

Content and review of the UK Performance Indicators

The indicators currently cover the following areas:

  • widening participation indicators
  • non-continuation rates (including projected outcomes)
  • employment of graduates.

Until July 2014, the UKPIs also provided measures of research output. These measures were discontinued following a fundamental review of UK performance indicators in 2013.

The fundamental review involved a wide range of interested bodies and organisations, and found that the higher education sector values the UKPIs as a way to measure HE.  While the approach used to create the measures was found to be appropriate, the 2013 review also identified the following issues:

  • the current set of indicators require some refinement
  • there is scope to introduce a small number of additional indicators to take account of the wider role of HE
  • there is a desire to broaden the populations and institutions covered by UKPIs to take account of the changing make-up of HE provision and of the HE sector.

UKPISG has considered the review’s findings. In response it has:

  • accepted and begun implementing a set of recommendations
  • issued an invitation to comment on some preliminary actions proposed during 2014
  • analysed the responses to that invitation, determining that UKPIs are needed in the area of research; that the existing research UKPIs needed to be discontinued; and that new research UKPIs should be developed and introduced at the earliest opportunity
  • established a series of guiding principles for the UKPIs going forward
  • begun a process that will review the indicators in-depth regularly, starting with the current widening participation UKPIs.

The group will continue to discuss changes with the sector as they are taken forward and consider feedback before taking decisions.

The UKPIs were previously reviewed in 2006-07 in Review of performance indicators: Outcomes and decisions -HEFCE 2007/14. Part of this process involved a consultation, available as Review of performance indicators: Consultation to inform the review -HEFCE 2006/34.

Contacts

HESA

Performance Indicators Team (e-mail piteam@hesa.ac.uk)

England

Richard Puttock at HEFCE (e-mail r.puttock@hefce.ac.uk)

Scotland

Martin Smith at SFC (e-mail msmith@sfc.ac.uk)

Wales

Hannah Falvey at HEFCW (e-mail hannah.falvey@hefcw.ac.uk)

Northern Ireland

Michael MacNeill at DELNI (e-mail michael.macneill@delni.gov.uk)

UKPISG secretariat

ukpisg@hefce.ac.uk

Page last updated 18 February 2015