May 2012 | ref: 2012/10
1. This report introduces a new approach to measuring rates of qualification from research degree study. It provides qualification rates of students on postgraduate research degree programmes at higher education institutions (HEIs) in England, projected over periods of 7 and 25 academic years. HEFCE published research degree qualification rates in 2007 and 2010, but the new method means the results included in this publication are not directly comparable with them.
2. We expect that this information will be of interest to HEIs and others interested in the quality of research degree programmes and qualification rates of research degree students.
3. The rates of qualification from research degree study presented here are calculated on the basis of a method derived from that currently employed by table series T5 of the UK higher education performance indicators (PIs). An overview of our new method is described below and a full technical description is given in the annexes of this publication. It is intended to improve the relevance and production of information regarding qualification from research degree study.
4. HEIs in England reviewed this new method in winter 2011 to see how it calculated their own qualification rates. They were invited to provide feedback on the method used and it has subsequently been modified to take account of concerns they raised.
5. Projected rates of qualification from research degree study are provided in this document for full-time students registered at English HEIs who started research degree programmes in 2008-09 and 2009-10. It is restricted to students who were resident in the EU, including the UK, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.
6. This report shows qualification rates calculated from data submitted by HEIs to the Higher Education Statistic Agency (HESA) in its annual data collections. For each HEI in England the proportions of their full-time research degree starters that are likely to be in each of three end states have been projected. That is, the proportion of the cohort expected to have qualified, transferred to another institution, or become absent from HE. Recent patterns of students at an institution are used in the projection of these outcomes. Each HEI’s rate is presented alongside a sector-adjusted average (benchmark) and, where appropriate, an indicator which highlights significant variation from the sector-adjusted average.
7. No action is required in response to this document.
 A student is defined as qualifying when they have been awarded a research degree and the ‘qualification obtained’ has been returned through the individualised HESA student record. This will typically be up to a year after the student submitted their thesis for assessment.
Download the Rates of qualification from postgraduate research degrees: Projected study outcomes as PDF (680 KB) | Download the Rates of qualification from postgraduate research degrees: Projected study outcomes as MS Word (916 KB)
Note that on 4 July 2012 the tables were changed to remove data about one institution’s qualification rates that have been found to be misleading on account of errors that the institution has identified in its underlying data.
Note also that on 25 July 2013 the tables were changed again, to provide these qualification rates on a comparable basis with those published for full-time students starting postgraduate research degrees in 2010-11 (HEFCE 2013/17). The method used to calculate rates of qualification from postgraduate research degrees was updated in HEFCE 2013/17 to ensure that the patterns of study of research masters students do not influence the statistics.
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Page last updated 26 July 2013