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The indicators published cover widening participation (including disability), non-continuation (Note 2) and projected outcomes. A separate set of performance indicators on employment of graduates and research outputs will be published in July.

A comparison of some of the key indicators for higher education institutions in England shows:

  • The proportion of young entrants (that is, aged 20 or younger) to full-time first degree courses who are from state schools has risen from 87.2 per cent in 2006-07 to 87.4 per cent for 2007-08 (Performance Indicators Table T1a).
  • The proportion of young entrants who are from low-participation neighbourhoods has increased from 9.6 per cent to 9.9 per cent between 2006-07 and 2007-08 (Table T1a).
  • The proportion of full-time first degree students in receipt of Disabled Students' Allowance has increased 0.2 percentage points from 4.4 per cent in 2006-07 to 4.6 per cent in 2007-08 (Table 7).
  • The proportion of young entrants to full-time first degree courses who are from low socio-economic backgrounds (NS-SEC groups 4 to 7) has decreased from 29.8 per cent to 29.4 per cent (Table T1a).
  • The indicators for projected outcomes do not show any significant changes this year with a projection of 13.4 per cent of students starting full-time first degree courses in 2006-07 neither receiving an award nor transferring to a different institution. This compares to a projected figure of 13.9 per cent for those starting in the previous year (Table 5).

How English widening participation indicators have changed in the last five years

Indicator2002-032003-042004-052005-062006-072007-08
Percentage of young entrants to full-time first degree courses from low-participation neighbourhoods n/a n/a n/a 9.2 9.6 9.9
Percentage of young entrants to full-time first degree courses from state schools 86.4 86.1 85.9 86.9 87.2 87.4
Percentage of young entrants to full-time first degree courses from NS-SEC groups 4 to 7 27.9 28.2 27.9 29.1 29.8 29.4
Percentage of full-time first degree students in receipt of Disabled Students' Allowance 2.6 3.1 3.7 4.1 4.4 4.6

Since 1999, the four UK funding bodies have jointly published annual performance indicators to provide robust and useful management information for higher education institutions. The performance indicators are available on the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) web-site.

All percentages given refer to students registered at English higher education institutions. Similar figures are available for those registered at Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland higher education institutions.

Commenting on the performance indicators, John Selby, HEFCE Director for Education and Participation, said:

'The Funding Council and the higher education sector take widening participation very seriously and I am pleased that there continues to be gradual improvement in most of the performance indicators for participation by under-represented groups. The increase in full-time students over the last six years who claim Disabled Students' Allowance is particularly marked. This is a significant finding and ties in with our commitment to ensuring that higher education institutions provide improving provision for disabled students.'

The indicators

The performance indicators cover the following areas:

  • access to higher education (how successful institutions are in recruiting students from under-represented areas and backgrounds)
  • the proportion of students who do not continue beyond the first year at an institution
  • projected outcomes based on current movement of students between years of study
  • research output.

Full definitions of all these are included in the performance indicators report.

Other results

Other indicators show that:

  • The percentage of young full-time first degree entrants in 2006-07 not continuing in higher education after their first year is around 7 per cent. The corresponding percentage for mature entrants is around 15 per cent.
  • The percentage of full-time undergraduate entrants to courses other than first degrees in 2006-07 not continuing in higher education after their first year is around 17 per cent (Table 3d).
  • The percentage of full-time first degree starters in 2006-07 expected to gain a degree is 78 per cent (Table 5).

Notes

1. The performance indicators are published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies: the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland (DELNI).

2. The non-continuation indicators reported here differ from the data used by HEFCE for funding purposes. It is possible for students recorded as continuing in these figures to be recorded as a non-completion in funding terms and vice versa.

3. The benchmarks are not targets and have no financial incentives or penalties associated with them.

4. The full text and tables of 'Performance indicators in higher education in the UK 2006-07' are available on the HESA web-site. The data given in this press release relate to England. Totals for the UK, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are given in the performance indicators report.

5. The development of the UK higher education performance indicators are overseen by the Performance Indicators Steering Group on behalf of the funding bodies and the higher education sector.

6. DIUS has issued a press release on the performance indicators, and John Denham has sent a letter today to HEFCE relating to them: