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The survey conducted by Ipsos MORI found that external organisations with an interest in higher education (HE) recognise an improvement in the quality of HEFCE’s relationships with them since the last survey in 2005. The report says that HEFCE continues to enjoy a strong reputation among its key stakeholders, which include government departments, HE agencies, representative bodies and regional organisations.
As in 2005, the great majority (82 per cent) say they have a 'very' or 'fairly favourable' impression of HEFCE. Compared with the 2005 survey, there is a statistically significant movement in stakeholder perceptions. This is shown by a 'shift from a "fairly" to "very" positive response in their evaluation of many aspects of HEFCE's performance'.
Stakeholders are twice as likely to have a 'very favourable' impression of HEFCE in 2009 compared with 2005 (31 per cent compared with 16 per cent), and are now significantly more likely to say that they would 'speak highly of HEFCE without being asked' (25 per cent compared with 15 per cent in 2005).
The report also says that stakeholders generally consider HEFCE to be performing effectively on those measures which they selected as being most important to them, such as managing change in relation to 'Government higher education policy and support for the strategic development of universities and colleges'.
In addition, the report identifies areas where HEFCE can improve. When asked to choose from a range of HEFCE's activities, stakeholder highlighted improvements could be made in relation to: 'innovation, transparency and flexibility, making stakeholders feel valued' and 'improving the clarity of communications for specific groups'.
Sir Alan Langlands, Chief Executive of HEFCE said:
'These results are very encouraging and confirm our commitment to work in partnership with a wide range of organisations. We will use the survey’s findings as we strive to improve our performance, particularly in areas which are identified by stakeholders as being less effective than others.'
Mr John Higton, Research Manager with Ipsos MORI, said:
'The stakeholders taking part in this survey clearly hold HEFCE in high regard. Whilst they highlight some areas in which HEFCE can improve, stakeholders say they are happy with HEFCE's performance overall and it is our view that the Council is performing well in many of the areas that stakeholders deem to be important.'
1. 'Survey of communications and relations between HEFCE and its key non-HEI stakeholders and staff'.
2. The 2009 survey of non-HEI stakeholders was conducted online by Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute who contacted 319 stakeholders from 164 organisations between 22 May and 26 June 2009. The audience were representatives of organisations who had an interest or stake in the higher education sector, but were not HEIs, such as universities and HE colleges. The survey data is unweighted. The survey achieved a response rate of 54 per cent (167 responses), which is higher than the levels achieved by Ipsos MORI when conducting similar surveys.
3. A similar online survey of non-HEI stakeholders was conducted between 20 June and 22 July 2005. A similar audience of 270 stakeholders was canvassed, from which a response rate of 61 per cent (154 completed surveys) was achieved. Similarly, the data from this survey was not weighted.