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HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018. The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

Many of HEFCE's functions will be continued by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


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Use our data

These links provide data that may help universities and colleges, and other local partners, with local economic and skills strategies and evidence to support funding applications. 

The profile of HE in local areas

This visualisation shows data for the regions and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). It focuses on a range of local growth information.

See the data

Local enterprise and universities

These six maps show the current small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) population across England, by size, sector distribution and growth and innovation levels.

See the data

Young participation

These maps show participation among students who enter higher education at the age of 18 or 19. They monitor trends over time and identify how likely young people are to enter HE depending on where they live.

See the data

Examples of how to use the data

Examples of how higher education providers have used the data made available by HEFCE to inform their policies are given in these case studies.

How Lancaster University uses HEFCE heatmaps

Why HEFCE’s hot and cold spots are useful for strategic engagement between universities and local business

Lancaster University was chosen to deliver a £32 million Regional Growth Fund ‘Wave 2 Growth Hub’  programme in support of the new business support policy. The data provided by HEFCE, was useful in the formulation of the Wave 2 Growth Hub programme, and it helped to highlight the need for such efforts.

Growth Hubs were created in partnership with local councils, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and Chambers of Commerce and over 200 local and national business support and innovation organisations, alongside the Departments of Business Innovation and Skills, the Cabinet Office and Communities and Local Government.

The rationale for the growth hubs was to co-ordinate national and local business support, and establish 'one stop shops' to deliver business support in fifteen city regions across England. The hubs target support to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and small businesses in their local economies. For example, the Black Country and Coventry and Warwickshire have a strong focus on supporting the Midlands’ manufacturing sector, while the hub covering Oxford and Central Oxfordshire has a tailored package to support the strong scientific base of that region, focused on innovation

Another key element of the programme is linking up universities into the hubs, either in co-ordination roles or delivering programmes. Depending on the local context these universities performed different functions:

  • some led the delivery of the hub itself (Portsmouth University)
  • some evaluated the impact of the hub on their local economy (Sussex University)
  • some provided strategic input through the hubs’ Steering Groups (Keele University)
  • others delivered programmes including voucher schemes (Essex University), or skills training (Henley Business School, Reading University)
  • some hubs were expressly set up with a view to better integrating university knowledge into the business community.

Both universities and SMEs are operating in complex and varied local landscapes, and programmes to support economic growth need to reflect this situation. This is why the HEFCE data is important - it provides us with more information about which localities are receiving high levels of support, and where linkages are functioning better, and which areas are missing out. With this evidence at hand, we can design better programmes to link up universities and local SMEs, and focus our efforts in the areas where the need is greatest.

The strategic processes of stakeholder mapping, contracting and infrastructure that the hubs implemented simplifies, de-mystifies and synergises both the complex HEI and industry landscapes, enabling more collaborative opportunities. It is clear that efforts are required to dynamise university-industry collaboration, in some areas more than others, and the vital pre-requisite to being able to do this is to have the information available.

Provided by Dr Amy Gibbons, Lancaster University and Dr Rhiannon Pugh, Uppsala University.

How Weston College uses POLAR data

Why HEFCE’s hot and cold spots are useful for strategic engagement between universities and local business

Weston College of Further and Higher Education is in Weston-super-Mare within the unitary authority area of North Somerset. There are 124 Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs) in North Somerset, of which 15 in Weston-super-Mare itself are within the most deprived 25 per cent of areas nationally. The college itself is situated in the heart of the most deprived wards.  

Since moving to a higher fee level for degree programmes, Weston College has been required to submit an Access Agreement to the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) to detail its commitment to widening participation. In its Access Agreement, the college has made significant use of POLAR data provided by HEFCE as part of its local growth data in order to inform its strategy around widening participation.

The data has helped it to identify which areas need particular targeting and therefore which schools to work most closely with in terms of outreach activity. For instance, the college works closely with the four schools in Weston-super-Mare, all of which are for 11-16 year olds. These schools have lower-than-average GCSE attainment and higher-than-average proportion of pupils in receipt of free school meals. The POLAR data has shown that one of the schools is situated in a ward assigned to one of the top three POLAR3 quintiles, and three out of four schools are situated in very low participation areas. The data has therefore helped consolidate the college's approach to working with these schools, and highlighted the need for ongoing aspiration-raising outreach work from a young age to tackle low social mobility and the generational dimension of this.

The POLAR data has also contributed to the development of the college’s Higher Education Strategic Plan for 2014-17, in which it has made a commitment to dedicate significant resource to widening participation in the local area. This Strategic Aim will be achieved through the measures outlined in our Access Agreement. A significant proportion of the additional income the college receives through higher tuition fees is dedicated to access activity, and it plans to increase this in future years.

The college plans to incorporate the POLAR data into how it reports on student retention and success. It has recently started reporting comprehensively on non-completion and attainment rates. It would like to start using the POLAR data to explore whether students from low-participation areas are more likely to withdraw from their courses than those from higher participation areas, and whether they achieve equivalent attainment levels to students from higher participation areas. Depending on what trends are revealed by this data, this will then feed into future Access Agreements, strategic planning and on-going programme support. 

Provided by Aislinn Keogh, Weston College of Further and Higher Education.

Page last updated 21 July 2016