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Further education and sixth form colleges should upload data returns to the HEFCE extranet by noon on 12 November.

Executive Summary


1. This document asks further education and sixth form colleges to complete the annual survey of students on recognised higher education courses.

Key points

2. The data will:

  • give an early indication, for purposes including government planning, of the number of higher education students studying in the academic year 2015-16
  • together with the Individualised Learner Record (ILR) supplied to the Skills Funding Agency, inform our allocation of teaching funds for the academic year 2016‑17.

3. This document provides the following.

  1. An introduction to the Higher Education in Further Education: Students Survey 2015‑16 (HEIFES15) and how we use it to inform our funding allocations.
  2. Guidance notes for completing the HEIFES15 survey (Section 1).
  3. Definitions used in the HEIFES15 survey (Section 2).
  4. Examples of the survey tables (Section 3). The actual tables for completion will be available to download from the HEFCE extranet in November 2015.
  5. A summary of changes since HEIFES14 (paragraph 26-50 of the main document).

4. Information on how HEIFES survey data is used to allocate funding can be found in ‘Guide to Funding 2015-16: How HEFCE allocates its funds’ (HEFCE 2015/04).

Action required

5. HEIFES15 should be completed by all further education and sixth form colleges receiving HEFCE recurrent funds for teaching. Returns must be uploaded to the HEFCE extranet by noon on Thursday 12 November 2015. Workbooks will be available to institutions in November 2015.

6. A provisional timetable for the HEIFES15 return and 2016-17 funding round is given in paragraph 23.



The guidance document is in three main sections.

Section 1 is instructions for completing the survey workbook, including screen shots of the tables. This section also describes data verification and data assurance processes.

Section 2 contains the funding rules and definitions that you need to refer to in order to complete the survey. These are in Annexes A to L. (Please note that annex lettering has changed from previous years.)

Section 3 contains sample HEIFES15 tables. 

NB: The following changes have been made to correct errors since this document was originally published:

  • In Section 1, Question 9 in the self-check questions has been amended. 
  • In Annex G Table 2, the code QH was erroneously listed among exceptions under C2 in Table 2. This erroneous exception has been removed.
  • In Appendix 2 paragraphs 41 and 42, price group A was erroneously included in the lists of price groups.
  • In Appendix 2 paragraph 42, '2015-15 FTE' has been corrected to '2014-15 FTE'. 
  • In Appendix 2 paragraph 48, ‘The proportion of Column 4 or 4a FTEs’ has been corrected to ‘The number of Column 4 or 4a FTEs’. 
  • in Appendix 2 paragraph 50, the word 'HEFCE-fundable' has been removed from 'the number of HEFCE-fundable students'.
  • Corrections have been made to the contents page and the index.


Main report and annexes

Download the HEFCE2015_20 as PDF (2,347 KB)

Download the HEFCE2015_20 as MS Word (4,224 KB)

Summary of changes since HEIFES14

Download the Summary of changes since HEIFES14 as PDF (129 KB) Download the Summary of changes since HEIFES14 as MS Word (136 KB) 

Section 1: Instructions

Download the HEFCE2015_20S1 as PDF (700 KB) Download the HEFCE2015_20S1 as MS Word (1,865 KB)

Section 2: Funding rules and definitions

Annex A: Defining the HEIFES student population

Download the HEFCE2015_20a as PDF (654 KB) Download the HEFCE2015_20a as MS Word (950 KB)

Annex B: Recognised higher education courses

Download the HEFCE2015_20b as PDF (92 KB) Download the HEFCE2015_20b as MS Word (153 KB)

Annex C: Counting student activity

 Download the HEFCE2015_20c as MS Word (453 KB)

Annex D: Completion and non-completion

Download the HEFCE2015_20d as PDF (204 KB) Download the HEFCE2015_20d as MS Word (306 KB)

Annex E: Full-time equivalence for part-time students

Download the HEFCE2015_20e as PDF (107 KB) Download the HEFCE2015_20e as MS Word (164 KB)

Annex F: Residential and fundability status

Download the HEFCE2015_20f as PDF (357 KB) Download the HEFCE2015_20f as MS Word (503 KB)

Annex G: Price groups

 Download the HEFCE2015_20g as MS Word (201 KB)

Annex H: Mode of study

Download the HEFCE2015_20h as PDF (187 KB) Download the HEFCE2015_20h as MS Word (170 KB)

Annex I: Level of study

Download the HEFCE2015_20i as PDF (83 KB) Download the HEFCE2015_20i as MS Word (150 KB)

Annex J: Long years of course

 Download the HEFCE2015_20j as MS Word (152 KB)

Annex K: Year abroad categories in Table 4

Download the HEFCE2015_20k as PDF (180 KB) Download the HEFCE2015_20k as MS Word (198 KB)

Annex L: List of abbreviations

Download the HEFCE2015_20l as PDF (68 KB) Download the HEFCE2015_20l as MS Word (155 KB)

Section 3: HEIFES15 Sample tables

Download the HEIFES15 Sample tables as MS Excel Spreadsheet (128 KB)


Appendix 1: Validation of HEIFES15 data

Download the HEFCE2015_20_1 as PDF (93 KB) Download the HEFCE2015_20_1 as MS Word (55 KB)

Appendix 2: Credibility checks on HEIFES15 data

Download the HEFCE2015_20_2 as PDF (254 KB) Download the HEFCE2015_20_2 as MS Word (77 KB)

Appendix 3: Guidance on the indicative 2014-15 and illustrative 2016-17 funding worksheets

Download the HEFCE2015_20_3 as PDF (148 KB) Download the HEFCE2015_20_3 as MS Word (76 KB)

Date: 17 September 2015

Ref: HEFCE 2015/20

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Student data, Funding

Enquiries should be directed to: