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Responses should be made online by noon on Friday 4 December 2015.

A set of reports which have informed our proposals is also available.

Executive summary

Purpose

1. This document sets out for consultation the proposals of the four higher education funding bodies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for changes to the National Student Survey and to the Unistats website. The consultation reflects the findings of stage one of a two-stage review of information about learning and teaching, and the student experience.

2. We are consulting on proposals for:

  • changes to the Unistats website and the Key Information Set for 2017
  • information to be published by institutions about their courses for 2017
  • changes to the National Student Survey for 2017
  • potential changes to information after 2017.

Key points

3. A summary of the proposals in this consultation is given in Table 1.

Table 1: Summary of proposals

Changes for 2017

Unistats and the Key Information Set

  • Maintain and develop a UK website of authoritative national data for students, their advisers and other stakeholders (currently Unistats).
  • Redesign Unistats to reflect diverse student information needs.
  • Transfer publication of learning, teaching and assessment information to institutions.
  • Provide more help for students to navigate information during their decision-making journey.

Information published by institutions

  • Ask institutions to publish detailed course information in line with Competitions and Markets Authority guidance.
  • Provide good practice developed with sector experts to support consistent but nuanced presentation of information.

National Student Survey

  • Apply criteria for questions in main survey.
  • Include new questions on student engagement.
  • Amend questions on Learning Resources and on Assessment and Feedback.
  • Merge duplicative questions.
  • Transfer personal development and student union questions to optional banks.
  • Bring optional questions up to date.

Potential Changes after 2017

Methods for capturing qualitative data from students for publication.

  • Consider options for publishing qualitative information including National Student Survey comments.

Feedback from undergraduate students not included in the NSS

  • Consider priority groups for whom we should collect data.
  • Consider options for capturing and publishing feedback.

Information for taught postgraduate students

  • Consider approaches to capturing and publishing feedback from taught postgraduates.

4. The full list of consultation questions is set out in Annex B.

5. Supporting material for this consultation, including research reports, is available at www.hefce.ac.uk/lt/roiconsult/.

6. We are holding three consultation events in November 2015 in Cardiff, Edinburgh and London. Further details are available at www.hefce.ac.uk/lt/roiconsult/events/.

Consultation outcomes

7. The Higher Education Public Information Steering Group will consider the responses to this consultation in February 2016 and advise the funding bodies on next steps.

8. The outcomes of the consultation and the next steps, agreed by the Boards or Councils of the funding bodies, will be published in spring 2016. This will enable preparatory work on changes to institutions’ websites to begin in 2016, and changes to Unistats and the National Student Survey from 2017.

9. We will publish a summary and analysis of the consultation responses as part of the outcomes document in spring 2016. We plan to publish all responses, without names or contact details, in spring 2016.

10. Information provided in response to a request, invitation or consultation from HEFCE may be made public, under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act or of an appropriate licence, or through another arrangement. Such information includes text, data and datasets. The Freedom of Information Act gives a public right of access to any information held by a public authority defined within the Act, in this case HEFCE. It applies to information provided by individuals and organisations, for example universities and colleges. HEFCE can refuse to make such information available only in exceptional circumstances. This means that data and information are unlikely to be treated as confidential except in very particular circumstances. Further information about the Act.

Action required

11. Responses to this consultation should be made online by noon on Friday 4 December 2015 using the online response form.

12. This is an open consultation and we welcome views from anyone with an interest in information about higher education. We regret we will not be able to consider responses after the deadline.

13. As discussed in paragraph 6, respondents are advised to check www.hefce.ac.uk/lt/roiconsult/events/ for updates and information about the consultation events that we will hold in November 2015.

Date: 1 October 2015

Ref: HEFCE 2015/24

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges, Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions, Heads of universities in Northern Ireland
Heads of higher education institutions in Scotland; Heads of higher education institutions in Wales; Heads of further education colleges in Wales; Heads of alternative providers in England; Heads of student unions and guilds at UK institutions; Student union officers and student representatives; Employer bodies; Professional, statutory and regulatory bodies; Other bodies with an interest in information about higher education; Careers advisers; Schools, sixth form colleges and their representative bodies; Other bodies and individuals involved in supplying advice and guidance to prospective higher education students

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Student data and information; Quality assurance; Admissions; Liaison with schools and colleges; Widening participation and marketing 

Enquiries should be directed to:

Sarbani Banerjee, tel 0117 931 7056, email s.banerjee@hefce.ac.uk or Ruth Tucker, tel 0117 931 7367, email r.tucker@hefce.ac.uk.