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What happened to UK Performance Indicators?

UK Performance indicators have been discontinued, but you can find similar statistics published by the HE funding and regulatory bodies in each UK nation.

HESA spring

Readers familiar with cadence of HESA statistical outputs will be used to the annual cycle starting with student and staff data published each new calendar year and ending with Graduate Outcomes or estates data in early summer. For the last 20 years the UK Performance Indicators (UKPIs) have come out during February and March showing non-continuation rates and the proportion of entrants from less advantaged backgrounds.

The UKPIs have stayed broadly consistent over time while other HESA stats have evolved in content and layout. That evolution has been a necessary adaptation to a changing environment - technology, expectations, and especially policy and regulation across the UK.

As any student of evolution will know, failure to adapt at sufficient speed can lead some species to extinction.

Statistical coherence

By 2021 it was clear that regulators and funders of higher education across the UK were using a variety of measures to monitor the performance of HE providers. There was a clear risk that the venerable UKPIs could present a conflicting narrative to the measures actually used by the funding and regulatory bodies to make their decisions.

In other words, the UKPIs no longer met the requirement, set out in the code of practice, that statistics should be coherent.

In May 2021 we announced that 2022 would be the last year of publication for the UK Performance Indicators.

Non-continuation and widening participation measures

The announcement in 2021 included an aspiration to review the former UKPIs with a view to migrating some measures, or their underlying data, into other HESA statistical products. We haven’t been able to meet that aspiration in 2023 due to the need to align with reviews by other bodies of related regulatory measures but the overall plan remains in place.

The review of performance measures is underway now and we are engaging with HE sector stakeholders. The outcomes of that review will determine which measures can be included in next year’s statistical outputs, which might take longer to develop, and which measures may be discontinued altogether.

In the meantime, each UK nation continues to publish statistical measures covering some of the themes formerly addressed by the UKPIs. We’ve updated the About the UK Performance Indicators page with pointers to these along with more detail about the decision to discontinue the UKPIs.

If you have a particular need that can’t be met through our open data or the measures published in each nation, please do get in touch at [email protected] – we may be able to help.

About the UK Performance Indicators

Jonathan Waller, Director of Information & Analysis

Jonathan Waller

Director of Data & Innovation