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Dear Vice-Chancellor or Principal

1.   This circular letter notifies colleges of the release of HEFCE's web facility. This is provided to colleges so that they can verify and correct, where appropriate, their 2010-11 individualised learner record (ILR) LR05 data prior to signing off their data with the Data Service. This web facility was formerly called the 'Statistics derived from ILR data: HEFCE web facility'.

2.   We will write to colleges separately providing them with the necessary access keys to use the web facility. Details as to where to find further information are described in paragraph 23.

3.   The Data Service and HEFCE strongly encourage use of the web facility because we regard it as an essential element of all colleges' data quality processes. It will help colleges to:

  • return accurate data to the Data Service
  • reduce the likelihood of selection for the 'ILR funding and monitoring data 2010-11' exercise (selected colleges are typically subject to considerable additional work and the potential of funding adjustments)
  • identify discrepancies between forecasts for within-year HEFCE funding returns, such as the Higher Education in Further Education Students (HEIFES) survey and the outturn position for 2010-11
  • identify errors in HEFCE funding returns
  • verify the accuracy of the derived fields that may inform funding allocations
  • verify that the derived statistics are suitable to inform data audits
  • verify that the derived statistics are suitable for publication and to inform policy.

4.   Where discrepancies occur between forecasts for within-year HEFCE funding returns (such as HEIFES) and the outturn position for 2010-11, we expect colleges to take full account of the outputs from the web facility when preparing future funding returns. We encourage colleges to analyse the web facility outputs as part of their data quality, planning and audit processes.

5.   Changes to the web facility since 2009-10 are described in Annex A, in particular the addition of indicative outputs for the 2013-14 National Scholarship Programme (NSP) allocation and the removal of the HEIFES non-completion toolkit.

Action required

6.   Use of this web facility is optional, but we strongly encourage colleges to use it as part of their data quality processes. Past reviews have confirmed that it is an essential element of most further education colleges' ILR data quality processes and that colleges that do not use the facility are more likely to be selected for the reconciliation exercises described in paragraphs 8-12 below, which may have funding consequences for them.

7.   In the past we have generally used, in our funding calculations, any amendments that have been submitted to us. Colleges should note that in the future we may not incorporate such amendments in our revised funding calculations. We expect to confirm our policy for using amendments for funding purposes following the outcome of the forthcoming second part of the consultation on HEFCE teaching funding from 2013-14 (we expect to publish the consultation in winter 2011-12 and the outcomes in 2012).

Relationship with 'ILR funding and monitoring data' exercise (formerly called 'Statistics derived from ILR data' exercise)

8.   We use the annual 'ILR funding and monitoring data' exercise (formerly called 'Statistics derived from ILR data for monitoring and allocation of funding’ exercise) to monitor colleges’ HEIFES and co-funded employer engagement (CFEE) returns using ILR data. This reconciliation exercise occurs after we have received a final copy of all colleges’ data from the Data Service, typically in the December following the web facility launch.

9.   Our funding allocations are informed by the data provided by colleges. If we find, either through reconciliations with the Data Service or other organisations' data, or any data audit, that erroneous data have resulted in colleges receiving incorrect funding allocations, then we will adjust their funding accordingly (subject to any appeals process that may apply and the availability of our funds).

10.   Any funding adjustments arising from the reconciliation of a re-creation from ILR data of 2010-11 HEIFES or CFEE data (HEIFES10 or CFEE10 respectively) are likely to affect the funding previously announced for 2010-11 and all subsequent years.

11.   Colleges selected to make a response to the reconciliation exercise must typically undertake a substantial amount of work, which may take several months to complete. The web facility is provided to complement the reconciliation exercise but it does not replace it.

12.   The 'Funding data reconciliations' area on the HEFCE web-site provides further detail regarding the reconciliation exercise.

Web facility outputs

13.   The 2010-11 web facility generates the following outputs:

  1. Indicative funding summaries.
    1. Indicative 2012-13 widening participation (WP) allocations.
    2. Indicative 2012-13 teaching enhancement and student success (TESS) allocation.
    3. Indicative 2013-14 NSP allocation.
  2. Funding data reconciliations
    1. HEIFES10 re-creation.
    2. CFEE10 survey re-creation.
  3. Other derived statistics
    1. 2012 Unistats summaries.
    2. 2012 National Student Survey (NSS) target list.
    3. 2010-11 Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) target list.
    4. Derived statistics that may inform data audits.
    5. Derived statistics used for publication and to inform policy.

Indicative funding summaries

14.   The methods used to generate the indicative funding summaries (that is, the 2012-13 WP allocations, 2012-13 TESS allocation and 2013-14 NSP allocation) are expected to be the same as those that will be used for the 'ILR funding and monitoring data' exercise. We may, however, make changes where we believe these will improve the algorithms (subject to any changes that our Board may make to the methodology).

Funding data reconciliations

15.   The algorithms used to generate the re-creations of HEFCE funding returns (that is, HEIFES10 and CFEE10) are intended to be the same as those that will be used for the 'ILR funding and monitoring data' exercise. We may, however, make changes where we believe these will improve the algorithms.

Other derived statistics

16.   We will use 2010-11 ILR data to identify areas of further investigation during data audits. The web facility will generate an output that will be used to identify areas of potential further investigation relating to student completion data. These outputs may be used as part of the data audits carried out by us or agents acting on our behalf.

17.   We intend to publish summaries of 2010-11 ILR data. These summaries enable us to map the provision of higher education by location. They may also be used to inform policy decisions. This will be the only opportunity for colleges to ensure that these summaries are suitable for publication.

18.   We intend to publish Unistats summaries from 2010-11 ILR LR05 data in 2012. The web facility provides an opportunity for colleges to check, before submission, that their ILR LR05 data are fit for publication on the Unistats web-site.

19.   2010-11 ILR data will be used to produce a target list of students to be included in the 2012 NSS. Colleges are encouraged to use the list to start preparing the contact details for these students so that these can be passed to the agency (Ipsos MORI) running the NSS. Contact details for students to be included in the 2012 NSS will need to be returned to the agency in late November 2011. On 25 November 2011 we will extract a final target list for the 2012 NSS from data submitted to the web facility. Colleges should therefore ensure that the most recent data submitted to the web facility on this date generates a complete NSS target list. Upon receipt of 2010-11 ILR LR05 data from the Data Service (in December 2011) we will use these data to validate colleges' target lists. Further details about the arrangements for the 2012 NSS will be published in the autumn. HEFCE staff will routinely access NSS target lists generated by the web facility.

20.   We will use 2010-11 ILR data to produce a target list of students for inclusion in the 2010-11 DLHE. Colleges are encouraged to use the list to start preparing the contact details for these students so that these can be passed to the agency (IFF Research) running the DLHE. Contact details for students to be included in the 2010-11 DLHE will need to be returned to the agency in late November 2011. On 28 November 2010 we will extract a final target list for the 2010-11 DLHE from data submitted to the web facility. Colleges should therefore ensure that the most recent data submitted to the web facility on this date generates a complete DLHE target list. Upon receipt of 2010-11 ILR LR05 data from the Data Service (in December 2011) we will use these data to validate colleges' target lists. Further details about the arrangements for the 2010-11 DLHE will be published in the autumn. HEFCE staff will routinely access DLHE target lists generated by the web facility.

Data confidentiality

21.   The web facility is a tool for colleges to use. Therefore, HEFCE staff will not access any data submitted to, or derived by, the web facility except in the limited circumstances described in paragraph 22. Only those fields listed in our technical documentation will be retained on our system. We will remove individualised files and any outputs from the 2010-11 web facility when we launch the 'ILR funding and monitoring data 2011-12' web facility in 2012. All other submitted data files will be deleted immediately after the outputs have been generated. Details about our commitments to handling personal data can be found in the freedom of information area of the HEFCE web-site.

22.   HEFCE staff may examine outputs from the web facility in any of the following circumstances:

  • where a college explicitly gives permission
  • to study general data quality and algorithmic issues with highest qualification on entry data (in particular where these data may be used to inform WP or TESS allocations)
  • to study general data quality and algorithmic issues with the Unistats summaries
  • to retrieve NSS and DLHE target lists.

Further information

23.   There are a number of help guides available in the funding and monitoring area of our web-site. Some specific areas that may be of interest are:

  1. Guidance for using the web facility can be found in the 'How to use the HEFCE web facility' web page.
  2. Extranet locations, deadlines and documentation can be found in the '2010-11 funding and monitoring data overview'.
  3. Technical information (such as algorithms and problems of fit) are listed in the '2010-11 funding and monitoring data overview'.
  4. Information on how to obtain data from the HEFCE extranet can be found in the 'How to access outputs' guide.
  5. Answers to frequently asked questions regarding the web facility are on the HEFCE web-site.

24.   If you require any further information or guidance please contact Matthew Brind (tel 0117 931 7285, e-mail ilr_heifes_stats@hefce.ac.uk).

Yours sincerely

Sir Alan Langlands
Chief Executive

Annex A

No longer available.

Date: 20 September 2011

Ref: Circular letter 22/2011

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Student data, planning, finance, audit

Enquiries should be directed to:

Matthew Brind, tel 0117 931 7285, e-mail ilr_heifes_stats@hefce.ac.uk