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Advance notification of changes to HESES and HEIFES for 2010-11 and later years

June 2010 | ref: Circular letter 10/2010

To:

Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges, Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions, Heads of universities in Northern Ireland

Dear Vice-Chancellor or Principal

1.   This letter notifies institutions of some changes that we intend to incorporate in the Higher Education Students Early Statistics (HESES) and Higher Education in Further Education: Students (HEIFES) surveys for 2010-11. It also provides advance warning of changes to our funding surveys that we intend to introduce in subsequent years. No action is required in response.

2.   Changes for 2010-11 are:

  1. The introduction of a new Table 6, which will collect information to monitor the student number control for 2010-11, and the removal of Column 3 in Table 4 (see paragraphs 5-7 and Annex A)See note 1.
  2. The introduction of new columns in Tables 1a (HESES) or 1 (HEIFES), 2 and 3 to collect information on employer co-funded provisionSee note 2. For HESES, these columns replace those that previously collected information on Lifelong Learning Networks (LLNs) funded outside the mainstream teaching grant ('model 2' LLNs) (see paragraphs 8-10).
  3. An amendment to the definition of student completion. We have removed the requirement that, where completion depends on attendance at a final examination, it should in general be judged by attendance at the first presentation of the examination. This is replaced by a requirement that, where completion depends on undergoing a final assessment, this must be done within 13 months of the start of the student's year of instance/programme of study (see paragraphs 11-13).
  4. A possible change in file format for the workbook from Excel 2003 to Excel 2007 (see paragraph 14).

3.   Changes for subsequent years are:

  1. Clarification of the treatment of foundation years, and other provision commonly referred to as 'Level 0' in HESES and HEIFES (see paragraph 15). We intend to introduce these changes for HESES and HEIFES in 2011-12.
  2. Changes to the way we calculate funding for two elements of quality-related research (QR): the research degree programme (RDP) supervision fund and charity support fund. Subject to further evaluation of the robustness of Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data for this purpose, we intend to switch to using HESA data to inform these funding elements for 2012-13 allocations onwards.

4.   We do not require a response to this letter. Any questions about it should be sent to heses@hefce.ac.uk (for higher education institutions) or heifes@hefce.ac.uk (for further education colleges). All definitions and guidance will be confirmed in the HESES10 and HEIFES10 publications in autumn 2010 or the HESES11 and HEIFES11 publications in autumn 2011. Further details can be found in paragraphs 5-18 below and Annexes A and B that accompany this letter.

The new Table 6

5.   From 2010-11, we have introduced a new student number control, with a specified limit for each institution, to reduce the risk that over-recruitment might lead to a transfer of HEFCE grant back to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to meet excess student support costs. The limit applies to students starting HEFCE-fundable or employer co-funded full-time undergraduate or Postgraduate/Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) study in 2010-11. Further information on this was provided in Toby West-Taylor's letter to individual institutions of 24 February 2010See note 3. That letter explained that we would introduce a new table within HESES and HEIFES to monitor compliance with the new control, which will be the new Table 6. Annex A provides information about the structure and content of the new Table 6 and guidance on its completion.

6.   As well as monitoring the student number control through Table 6 of the HESES and HEIFES surveys, we will undertake further monitoring using the end-of-year HESA individualised student data and the Data Service Individualised Learner Record (ILR) data for 2010 11, as these become available. This may result in changes to any grant adjustments we have previously announced.

Column 3 of Table 4 of HESES09 and HEIFES09 removed

7.   For HESES09 and HEIFES09 we introduced a new Column 3 to Table 4, which identified the fee status of Home and EC students recorded as new entrants. This was introduced to help our monitoring of entrants to full-time undergraduate and PGCE study in 2009-10. Given how we have now set student number controls for 2010-11, these data are no longer required and will therefore not be collected in HESES10 or HEIFES10 or subsequent years.

New columns to record employer co-funded data

8.   Institutions already include within their HESES and HEIFES returns students that count towards the achievement of student number targets for provision co-funded with employers. These students are returned as HEFCE non-fundable in HESES and HEIFES, and are not separately identifiable from other non-fundable students. We have monitored employer co-funded targets through a separate end-of-year monitoring return. For 2010-11 however, we will ask institutions to identify students that are to count towards their employer co-funded allocations separately from other HEFCE non-fundable students in HESES and HEIFES. This will be done by adding a new column 5 in Tables 1a (HESES), 1 (HEIFES) and 2, and two new columns – 5 and 5a – in Table 3, as follows:

  1. Column 5 in each table will be a subset of HEFCE non-fundable numbers included in Column 4 of each table. It will identify estimated completed years of instance/programme of study that are to count towards the delivery of employer co-funded student number targets, disaggregated by price group, mode, level and length of study in the year.
  2. Column 5a (in Table 3 only) will be a subset of HEFCE non-fundable numbers included in Column 4a of that table. It will identify the estimated full-time equivalent (FTE) numbers for the completed years of instance/programme of study returned in the new Column 5, again disaggregated by price group, mode, level and length of study in the year.

9.   Although we will be collecting this information in HESES and HEIFES, for 2010-11 we propose to continue to monitor achievement of employer co-funded student number targets through the separate end-of-year monitoring return. This separate return collects further qualitative as well as quantitative information on employer co-funded activity, and this allows for more accurate reporting of numbers late in the year. However, from 2011-12 we intend to discontinue the end-of-year return if the information can be collected reliably and in a timely way through other means, including through HESES, HEIFES and individualised student data returns.

'Model 2' LLNs

10.   HESES09 collected information in Columns 5 and 5a of Tables 1a, 2 and 3 about completed years of instance or FTEs that counted towards the delivery of funding or student number targets for LLNs that were not supported through the mainstream teaching grant ('model 2' LLNs). All LLNs are to be funded through the mainstream 'model 1' route from 2010 11, so the LLN information collected in HESES09 is no longer required. Note in HESES this has been replaced by columns to collect employer co-funded data as described in paragraphs 8 and 9 above.

Completion and non-completion

11.   Up to and including 2009-10, our definition of completion stated that, where completion depends upon attendance at a final examination, it should be judged by attendance at the first presentation of the examination; however, where it is agreed in advance that an individual student will not attend the first presentation but instead sit a specified subsequent one, completion will be determined by attendance at that subsequent presentation. The current definition of completion is at paragraph 35 of Annex E of HESES09 - Higher Education Students Early Statistics Survey 2009-10, HEFCE 2009/36 and paragraph 29 of Annex E of HEIFES09 - Higher Education in Further Education: Students Survey 2009-10, HEFCE 2009/37.

12.   From 2010-11, we propose to replace this part of our completion definition with the requirement that where completion depends upon a student undergoing a final assessment for a module, that final assessment should take place within 13 calendar months of the start of the year of instance/programme of study. If assessment takes place outside this time limit, the year of instance/programme of study should be recorded as a non-completion. Annex B provides the revised definition of completion for HESES10 and HEIFES10. It also includes clarification of the treatment of students that substitute one module for another. We believe that this change to the definition strikes the right balance between enabling flexibility of study patterns and accountability for public funding.

13.   We are making this change in response to views expressed by institutions. It will not be applied retrospectively, including where we are auditing HESES or HEIFES returns for 2009-10 or earlier years and adjusting funding accordingly. For our funding allocations to be fair, it is important, given our fixed budget, that our funding rules are applied consistently across the sector, otherwise some institutions would benefit at the expense of others. It would therefore not be appropriate to apply different funding definitions to individual institutions. Further information about the reasons for our approach towards student completion is available on the HEFCE web-site.

New file format for HESES10 and HEIFES10 submissions

14.   We intend to create the Excel workbook containing the HESES10 and HEIFES10 tables for completion in Excel 2007 (file extension .xlsx) and not Excel 2003 (file extension .xls) as was the case in recent years. Institutions which have not migrated to using Excel 2007 must ensure they have installed the Microsoft Compatibility Pack so that the HESES10 and HEIFES10 tables can be opened, and subsequently saved in the Excel 2007 file format. Full details regarding this change will be provided in the HESES10 and HEIFES10 guidance.

Foundation years and other 'Level 0' provision: change to HESES11 and HEIFES11

15.   Foundation years, and other provision commonly referred to as Level 0, are classed as 'recognised HE courses' only if they are an integrated part of a recognised HE qualification. From 2011-12, we intend to make clear that such provision will be considered integrated only if:

  • students are already registered for the recognised HE qualification at the same institution, and
  • progression to the recognised HE qualification is guaranteed, subject to satisfactory completion of the foundation year.

Free-standing foundation years and other free-standing Level 0 provision are not recognised HE courses. The requirement that students are already registered for the recognised HE qualification at the same institution means that where teaching of the foundation year is undertaken by a different institution, this will only be treated as integrated, and therefore within the HESES and HEIFES population, if it is done so under a franchise arrangement from the institution offering the HE qualification. We are introducing this change from 2011-12 to give institutions time to implement any necessary changes to their current partnership arrangements.

RDP supervision fund and charity support fund: possible discontinuation of the research activity survey after 2010

16.   With a view to reducing the amount of data we expect institutions to supply to us, we have done some preliminary work on extracting data from the HESA records to inform the RDP supervision fund and charity support fund elements of our QR allocations. These elements of funding are currently informed by data collected in our annual Research Activity Survey (RAS), which we plan to discontinue.

17.   We have also been evaluating HESA data to see if they are robust enough to meet the funding eligibility criteria for these two elements of QR funding. Subject to our findings, we intend to switch to using HESA data to inform these elements of QR funding for the 2012-13 allocations onwards. This will mean that the RDP supervision fund for 2012-13 would be informed by eligible research student numbers extracted from the 2010-11 HESA student record, and that the charity support fund for 2012-13 would be informed by the eligible research income from charities extracted from the 2009-10 HESA finance record. This would also mean that the RAS would not be collected in 2011, although this remains conditional on our confidence that the HESA data are sufficiently robust to inform funding.

18.   The '2009-10 statistics derived from HESA data web facility' will include a new table showing an indicative allocation of RDP supervision funding based on postgraduate research (PGR) student data extracted from the 2009-10 HESA student data your institution will be submitting to HESA. We hope that this will enable institutions to determine whether their systems and processes for returning research student data are fit-for-purpose and, if not, correct any areas of weakness before the data are used to inform funding. Institutions may also wish to comment on the suitability of our algorithms for extracting research student numbers to meet the funding eligibility criteria.

Yours sincerely

Sir Alan Langlands
Chief Executive


Notes

  1. This change does not apply to Northern Ireland institutions
  2. This change does not apply to Northern Ireland institutions
  3. Available on the HEFCE web-site, www.hefce.ac.uk 

Page last updated 22 February 2012

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