Dear Vice-Chancellor or Principal
HESA funding and monitoring data (FAMD) 2014‑15: Web facility
1. This circular letter notifies institutions of the release of HEFCE’s web facility for Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) funding and monitoring data. Institutions in England can access their web facility from today; the facility for institutions in Northern Ireland will be available by the end of September 2015. This web facility is provided to institutions so that they can verify, and where appropriate correct, their 2014-15 HESA student data before signing off this data with HESA.
2. We will write to institutions separately, providing them with the necessary key to access the web facility.
3. HESA and HEFCE strongly encourage use of the web facility, which we regard as an essential element of all institutions’ data quality processes. It will help institutions to:
- return accurate data to HESA
- verify the accuracy of the derived fields that may inform and monitor funding and student number control (SNC) allocations
- respond to data verification queries (DVQs) raised by HEFCE staff
- reduce the likelihood of selection for the FAMD reconciliation exercise for 2014-15 (selected institutions 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 Students Early Statistics survey (HESES)) and the outturn position for 2014-15
- identify errors in HEFCE funding returns
- verify that the 2014-15 HEFCE-fundable full-time equivalent student numbers used in the transparent approach to costing for teaching (TRAC(T)) are suitable to inform the periodic review of the relative costs of different subjects.
4. We strongly encourage institutions to analyse the FAMD web facility outputs as part of their HESA student data quality processes. Past reviews have confirmed that this is an essential element of most higher education institutions’ HESA data quality processes, and that institutions that do not scrutinise the FAMD outputs are more likely to be selected for the reconciliation exercises described in paragraphs 18 to 22, which may have funding consequences for them.
5. HEFCE staff may query (via HESA’s Minerva Data Quality System) potential errors in HESA data which could affect future funding calculations and the monitoring of SNCs.
6. Where discrepancies occur between forecasts for within-year HEFCE funding returns (such as HESES) and the outturn position for 2014-15, we expect institutions to take full account of the outputs from the web facility when preparing future funding returns. We therefore strongly encourage institutions to analyse the web facility outputs as part of their data quality, planning and audit processes.
7. We would be grateful for feedback on the proposed algorithms for using HESA data to inform the calculation and monitoring of funding and SNC allocations, in particular where these algorithms have changed from previous years. Feedback should be emailed to email@example.com.
Web facility outputs
8. The release timetable for the 2014-15 web facility is as follows.
By Thursday 6 August 2015
- HESES14 re-creation.
- HESA data for the 2016-17 Research Degree Programme (RDP) supervision fund allocation.
By Thursday 20 August 2015
- HESA data for the 2016-17 Student Opportunity (SO) allocations.
- 2014-15 HEFCE-fundable full-time equivalences (FTEs) for Transparent Approach to Costing for Teaching (TRAC(T)).
- HESA data for the 2016-17 London targeted allocation.
9. We may release further outputs to the web facility later in the year as they become available. We will email institutions’ HESES contacts to announce their availability accordingly.
10. HEFCE staff may raise DVQs (via HESA’s Minerva Data Quality System) where we assess that potential errors in data could affect funding calculations during the data collection window. HEFCE will scrutinise the data in the areas listed in paragraph 8 above.
11. Further details of this process are described in the ‘Data verification’ section of our website. We expect all institutions to respond to DVQs before the HESA sign-off deadline.
12. The outputs generated by the web facility will, wherever relevant, contain details of how 2014‑15 HESA data is expected to be used to inform your 2016-17 funding allocations. The algorithms used to generate the outputs are generally expected to be the same as will be used for funding calculations (subject to any changes that our Board may make to the methodology); however, we may make changes where we believe these will improve the algorithms.
13. Throughout the outputs we generally assume the funding rates used in the March grant announcement. While the actual funding rates are expected to change after the October grant announcement, we will not generally change the rates that are used to produce the web facility outputs. This is because the web facility outputs are primarily intended to identify data quality issues.
14. In the web facility calculations we have assumed that all students with undetermined completion status (FUNDCOMP = 3) have completed their year of study. Institutions should note that we are unlikely to use such an assumption when selecting institutions for the FAMD reconciliation exercise for 2014‑15.
15. We may request updated information regarding students reported with FUNDCOMP = 3 on the 2014-15 HESA student record. This would follow the same process as the HESA FAMD 2013-14 Completion Status Survey (see ‘HESA funding and monitoring data (FAMD) 2013-14: Funding summaries and request for updates to completion status data’, HEFCE Circular letter 07/2015).
16. When monitoring SNC allocations for 2014-15 we will link HESA data with other data sources (further education colleges’ Individualised Learner Record data and schools’ National Pupil Dataset data) to enhance data on students’ qualifications on entry. Links to this data are not included in the web facility outputs; the information presented in the web facility will therefore change when monitoring SNC allocations.
17. The web facility calculations will incorporate any HESA amendments (for 2013-14 and earlier years) and overrides to derived fields that are signed off by 24 July 2015. We do not intend to update the web facility outputs to reflect any amendments and overrides that may be signed off subsequently.
Relationship with HESA FAMD reconciliation exercise
18. We use the annual HESA FAMD reconciliation exercise to monitor institutions’ HESES returns using HESA student data. This reconciliation exercise occurs after we have received a final copy of all institutions’ data from HESA, typically in the December following the web facility launch.
19. Our funding allocations are informed by the data provided by institutions. If we find, either through reconciliations with HESA or other organisations’ data, or during the course of any data audit, that erroneous data has resulted in institutions 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).
20. Any funding adjustments arising from the reconciliation of a re-creation from HESA student data with HESES14 are likely to affect the funding previously announced for 2014-15, 2015‑16 or both,
21. Institutions selected to respond 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.
22. The ‘Funding data reconciliations’ area on the HEFCE website provides further detail regarding the reconciliation exercise.
23. The web facility is a tool for institutions. HEFCE staff will access data submitted to, or derived by, the web facility in the circumstances described in paragraph 24. We will remove individualised files, submitted XML files and any outputs from the 2014-15 web facility when HESA’s 2014-15 fixed database closes in 2017. Details about our commitments to handling personal data can be found on our website under ‘How to request information from us’.
24. HEFCE staff may examine outputs from the web facility in any of the following circumstances:
- where an institution explicitly gives permission
- to produce early modelling of funding allocations
- to study general data quality and algorithmic issue as part of the DVQ exercise described in paragraphs 10 and 11.
Higher education institutions in Northern Ireland
25. For higher education institutions in Northern Ireland we produce the outputs listed in Annex A.
26. There are a number of help guides available in the FAMD area of our website. Some specific areas may be of interest.
- Guidance for using the web facility can be found in the ‘How to use the HEFCE web facility’ web page.
- Extranet locations, deadlines and documentation can be found under ‘2014-15 funding and monitoring data overview’.
- Technical information (such as algorithms and problems of fit) is listed under ‘2014-15 funding and monitoring data overview’.
- Information on how to obtain data from the HEFCE extranet can be found in the ‘How to access outputs’ guide.
- Answers to frequently asked questions regarding the web facility are on the HEFCE website.
27. If you require any further information or guidance please contact Rosemary Thomas (tel 0117 931 7473, email firstname.lastname@example.org).