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Dear Principal

1. Further to our letter of November 2012, ‘Plans for the 2013 Destinations of Leavers in Higher Education survey in further education colleges’ (HEFCE Circular letter 28/2012), we are writing to provide information on the next steps in the process, including a timeline and the options for institutional engagement in the DLHE.

2. HEFCE Circular letter 28/2012 stated that 2013 would be a transition year in which further education colleges (FECs) should begin preparations to administer and fund the survey themselves in 2014. During this transition year, HEFCE will pay the full costs of the survey for the first tranche for leavers between 1 August and 31 December (the survey conducted in April 2013), and subsidise the cost for the second tranche for leavers between 1 January and 31 July (the survey conducted in January 2014) at a rate of 50 per cent. The survey will be conducted as usual by our contractors, I-Graduate. After both tranches, in July 2014, HEFCE will invoice each college for 50 per cent of the total cost of the second tranche. This will amount to approximately £5 per eligible student.

3. From March 2014, further education colleges will be expected to fully fund and administer the survey for themselves. We hosted a roundtable event in January 2013 and invited a number of FECs to discuss the options for administering the survey, including informing them of the development of a ‘framework’ (or preferred list of contractors). Using contractors from the framework will enable colleges to contract out the survey administration should they so wish, thus benefitting from using providers familiar with administering the survey who can achieve economies of scale. The options available for conducting the DLHE survey are outlined below.

The framework

4. The framework will consist of a maximum of two preferred contractors. As part of the tendering process, the contractor(s) included in the framework will have shown that they have good knowledge of higher education (HE) in further education colleges and can ensure high response rates, good-quality data and value for money. The current costs per student surveyed have been estimated at around £10, but this is based on one contractor running the survey on behalf of all 116 institutions. The outcomes may not be as advantageous if only a few institutions opt into the framework. We will work with the contractor(s) to establish a pricing model that will take into account the different sizes of institutions and levels of service required.

5. It is expected that most colleges will use one of the contractors in the framework, as this will be economical and will remove the burden on them to resource and plan the survey. It will also largely remove the responsibility for optimising data quality and response rates from colleges themselves. While this arrangement is being developed primarily for FECs, higher education institutions (HEIs) will be entitled to participate on the same basis. We anticipate that the framework and contractor(s) will be in place by July 2013.

Forming a consortium to run the survey on behalf of a number of institutions

6. A further option is for FECs to form consortia to run the survey collaboratively. This option would also provide economies of scale, particularly for FECs with fewer HE students. Colleges could either opt to join other FECs or work with their partner HEIs, who will already have expertise and knowledge based on years of experience of running the survey in-house.

Running the survey in-house

7. It will also be possible for FECs to conduct the survey directly on their own behalf, taking responsibility for achieving good data quality and an acceptable response rate. We are aware, based on past experience with HEIs, that achieving these outcomes may prove challenging, and will request all FECs opting for this route to provide assurance that their systems entail adequate planning and resourcing to deliver them. This will consist of a short summary of how the FEC plans to manage and resource the survey, to be submitted in autumn 2013 so that we can be assured those responsible have understood the requirements and are likely to meet them. The details of this approach will be outlined in August, during the workshops we are holding to help FECs to continue to participate effectively in the DLHE.

Next steps

8. We will be holding workshops for colleges to find out more about the framework, share good practice (from the perspective of smaller HEIs who currently run the survey in-house) and learn more about what HEFCE will expect institutions to do to ensure good-quality responses and data.

9. All colleges are strongly encouraged to nominate a representative to attend one of these workshops. They are free of charge. Registration forms and details are included on the events’ web page.

Manchester Tuesday 20 August 1000-1300 Manchester University
London Friday 30 August 1000-1300 Queen Mary University of London

Summary timetable

July 2013Framework in place.
August 2013 Workshop training events for FECs.
October 2013 FECs to decide how they will conduct the survey.
November 2013 Deadline for FECs to submit proposals to run the DLHE survey for themselves, outside the framework.
January 2014 DLHE survey begins.

10. Enquiries and requests for further details should be addressed to

Yours sincerely


Sir Alan Langlands

Chief Executive

Date: 12 April 2013

Ref: Circular letter 08/2013

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Student experience, Higher education

Enquiries should be directed to:

Matthew Barrow, tel 0117 931 7327, e-mail