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UK Performance Indicators in higher education

The UK Performance Indicators (UKPIs) for higher education (HE) provide information on the nature and performance of the HE sector in the UK. They aim to measure how higher education providers perform objectively and consistently.

These data 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).

Latest review of performance indicators

After a fundamental review of performance indications, the group responsible for their development - the UK Performance Indicators Steering Group - has set out its response to the findings. 

The review – which ran in early 2013 - involved a wide range of interested bodies and organisations.

It found that the higher education sector values the indicators as a way to measure HE, and that the substance of the indicators and the way they are created current is appropriate.

But the 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.

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

  • accepted and begun implementing a set of recommendations
  • proposed a series of guiding principles for the indicators going forward
  • begun a process that will review the indicators in-depth regularly.

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

It expects to carry out these changes over time and involve the sector in further discussion.

Content of the indicators

The indicators currently cover the following areas:

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

Oversight and management

The UK Performance Indicators Steering Group (UKPISG) oversees the management and development of the group. It 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.

The group receives advice on technical implementation from the UK Performance Indicators Technical Group.

History and review

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 their diversity and the needs of different stakeholders.

We published the first set of indicators in their current form in December 1999, on behalf of all four UK funding councils. 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 UKPIs were 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.


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 27 January 2014

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