Dear Vice-Chancellor or Principal
Individualised Learner Record funding and monitoring data 2011-12: Web facility
1. This circular letter notifies colleges of the release of HEFCE’s web facility for Individualised Learner Record (ILR) funding and monitoring data (FAMD). This web facility is provided to colleges so that they can verify and correct, where appropriate, their 2011-12 ILR R15 data prior to signing off these data with the Data Service.
2. We will write to colleges separately providing them with the necessary access key to use the web facility.
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
- verify the accuracy of the derived fields that may inform funding allocations and the setting of student number limits
- respond to data verification queries raised by HEFCE staff
- reduce the likelihood of selection for the ILR FAMD exercise for 2011-12 (selected colleges are typically subject to considerable additional work and potential funding adjustments)
- identify discrepancies between forecasts for within-year HEFCE funding returns, such as the Higher Education in Further Education: Students Survey (HEIFES) survey, and the outturn position for 2011-12
- identify errors in HEFCE funding returns.
4. 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 17 to 21, which may have funding consequences for them.
5. HEFCE staff may query potential errors in ILR data which could affect future funding calculations and the setting of student number controls (SNCs).
6. In the past, when calculating funding and setting SNCs, we have generally used any amendments to data that have been submitted to us. Colleges should note that in the future we may not incorporate such amendments (to 2011-12 ILR data onwards) when revising our calculations.
7. Where discrepancies occur between forecasts for within-year HEFCE funding returns (such as HEIFES) and the outturn position for 2011-12, we expect colleges to take full account of the outputs from the web facility when preparing future funding returns. We therefore strongly encourage colleges to analyse the web facility outputs as part of their data quality, planning and audit processes.
8. We would be grateful for feedback on the proposed algorithms for using ILR data to inform the allocation and monitoring of funding and SNCs, in particular where these algorithms have changed from previous years. These include but are not restricted to:
- The adjustment of SNC limits for ABB+ equivalent students and those topping up from a foundation degree or HND to an honours degree.
- The indicative 2013-14 student opportunity (SO) allocation.
- The calculation of FTE and non-completion status for students starting a non‑standard year of instance.
Feedback should be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Web facility outputs
9. The 2011-12 web facility generates the following outputs.
- Funding data reconciliations:
- HEIFES11 re-creation.
- Other funding and monitoring data:
- 2013 Unistats summaries.
- 2013 National Student Survey (NSS) target list.
- 2011-12 Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) target list.
Funding data reconciliations
10. The algorithms used to generate the re-creations of HEFCE funding returns (specifically, HEIFES11) are intended to be the same as will be used for the ILR FAMD exercise. We may, however, make changes where we believe these will improve the algorithms.
Other derived statistics
11. We intend to publish Unistats summaries from the 2011-12 ILR R15 data in 2013. The web facility provides an opportunity for colleges to check, before submission, that their ILR R15 data are fit for publication on the Unistats web-site.
12. The 2011-12 ILR data will be used to produce a target list of students to be included in the 2013 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 2013 NSS will need to be returned to the agency in late November 2012. On 19 November 2012 we will extract a final target list for the 2013 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 generate a complete NSS target list. On receipt of 2011-12 ILR R15 data from the Data Service (in December 2012), we will use these data to validate colleges’ target lists. Further details about the arrangements for the 2013 NSS will be published in the autumn. HEFCE staff will routinely access NSS target lists generated by the web facility.
13. We will use 2011-12 ILR R15 data to produce a target list of students for inclusion in the 2011-12 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 International Graduate Insight Group (I‑Graduate), the agency running the DLHE. Contact details for students to be included in the 2011-12 DLHE will need to be returned to the agency in late November 2012. On 19 November 2012 we will extract a final target list for the 2011-12 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 generate a complete DLHE target list. On receipt of 2011-12 ILR R15 data from the Data Service (in December 2012) we will use these data to validate colleges’ target lists. Further details about the arrangements for the 2011-12 DLHE will be published in the autumn. HEFCE staff will routinely access DLHE target lists generated by the web facility.
14. Changes to the web facility since 2010-11 are described in Annex A.
15. As last year, due to the increased use of ILR data to drive funding allocations and calculate SNCs, HEFCE staff may raise queries when potential errors in data could affect future funding calculations and the setting of SNCs during the data collection window. In particular, HEFCE will scrutinise data relating to indicative phase-out funding rates.
16. Further details of this process are described on our web-site at www.hefce.ac.uk/whatwedo/invest/institns/funddataaudit/dataverification/.
Relationship with ILR FAMD exercise
17. We use the annual ILR FAMD exercise to monitor colleges’ HEIFES 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.
18. Our funding allocations are informed by the data provided by colleges. If we find, either through reconciliations with ILR or other organisations’ data, or during the course of 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).
19. Any funding adjustments arising from the reconciliation of a re-creation from ILR student data with HEIFES11 are likely to affect the funding previously announced for 2011-12 and all subsequent years.
20. 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.
21. The ‘Funding data reconciliations’ area on the HEFCE web-site provides further detail regarding the reconciliation exercise (see www.hefce.ac.uk/data/famd/fundingdatareconciliations/).
22. The web facility is a tool for colleges to use. HEFCE staff will not access any data submitted to, or derived by, the web facility except in the limited circumstances described in paragraph 23. Only those fields listed in our technical documentation (see www.hefce.ac.uk/data/famd/lateststatistics/) will be retained on our system. We will remove individualised files and any outputs from the 2011-12 web facility when we launch the ‘ILR funding and monitoring data 2012-13’ web facility in 2013. 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 at www.hefce.ac.uk/contact/freedomofinformation/.
23. 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 as part of the data verification described in paragraphs 15 and 16
- to study general data quality and algorithmic issues with the Unistats summaries
- to retrieve NSS and DLHE target lists.
24. There are a number of help guides available in the FAMD area of our web-site (www.hefce.ac.uk/data/famd/help/workingwithindividualisedfiles/). Some specific areas that may be of interest are:
- Guidance for using the web facility can be found in the ‘How to use the HEFCE web facility’ web page (www.hefce.ac.uk/data/famd/help/howtousethehefcewebfacility/).
- Extranet locations, deadlines and documentation can be found in the ‘2011-12 funding and monitoring data overview’ (www.hefce.ac.uk/data/famd/lateststatistics/).
- Technical information (such as algorithms and problems of fit) are listed in the ‘2011-12 funding and monitoring data overview’ (www.hefce.ac.uk/data/famd/lateststatistics/).
- Information on how to obtain data from the HEFCE extranet can be found in the ‘How to access outputs’ guide (www.hefce.ac.uk/data/famd/help/howtoaccessoutputs/).
- Answers to frequently asked questions regarding the web facility are on the HEFCE web-site (www.hefce.ac.uk/data/famd/thefundingandmonitoringdataexercise/ilrdata/2010-11faqs/).
25. If you require any further information or guidance please contact Dominic Meyer (tel 0117 931 7285, e-mail email@example.com).
Sir Alan Langlands