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DLHE Longitudinal Survey - 2006/07 cohort

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Version 1.0 2010-08-30

Frequently asked questions for HE institutions 2006/07 survey

What is the DLHE Longitudinal Survey?

The Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Survey is a survey of leavers from Higher Education (HE) and is conducted in two stages. The first stage, or Early Survey, aims to find out what leavers are doing six months after they qualified from their HE course. The second stage, or Longitudinal Survey, is a follow-up survey that aims to find out what leavers are doing a further three years on.

The first stage of the survey is undertaken by higher education institutions (HEIs) using standard documentation provided by HESA and with a target population comprising those who left HEIs with certain qualifications during a specific period. The data from this survey is collected by institutions and returned to HESA for use in producing statistics, as well as allowing Statutory Customers to fulfil their statutory obligations. Institutional performance indicators are also produced using data from this first stage of the DLHE survey.

The second stage of the survey is undertaken by a contractor on behalf of HESA and is a survey of a sample of those leavers who took part in the first stage of the survey.

Again all institutions are involved in this second stage, although not in the submission of data to HESA. The results of this follow-up survey are not published at institution level. When the survey is complete each institution will receive the data from its own leavers’ responses for statistical use.

A pilot survey of the second stage was carried out in winter 2005/06 by Ipsos MORI. The first full Longitudinal Survey took place during 2006/07 and surveyed a sample of those who completed their studies during 2002/03. A second survey took place during 2007/08 and surveyed a sample of leavers from 2004/05. A third survey will be carried out over the winter of 2010/11.

The two-stage approach to the DLHE survey was developed so that a more accurate picture of leavers' destinations can be traced over time.


Who will be carrying out the current (2010/11) DLHE Longitudinal Survey?

An organisation called IFF Research carried out the first two surveys and will be undertaking the third survey, surveying a sample of leavers who left in 2006/07. IFF Research has been contracted by HESA to undertake the management and administration of the survey. You will first hear directly from IFF Research in September. A member of your institution will have agreed to be the contact for your institution for the purposes of the DLHE Longitudinal Survey. This colleague will be the person IFF Research contacts during the course of the survey.


Why are institutions not carrying out this follow-up survey themselves, as they do for the first stage?

The survey is being carried out centrally by a contractor to ensure comparable data and to minimise the burden on institutions.


How are HE institutions involved in this longitudinal follow-up survey?

The sample of leavers to be surveyed will be determined centrally by HESA and IFF Research will contact HE institutions requesting the contact details of the leavers in the sample. IFF Research will also request the email addresses for some other leavers (see Exactly what data are institutions required to pass to the contractor?, below). Institutions should ensure that accurate and up-to-date contact details are provided and that appropriate data protection arrangements are in place to enable the forwarding of contact details to IFF Research. When the survey is complete each institution will receive the data from its own leavers’ responses for statistical use. Those leavers who responded to the second stage of the survey will have been asked whether or not they are content for institutions to contact them in connection with the information they have given.


What are the appropriate data protection arrangements?

HESA put into place arrangements in 2002/03 for leavers to be surveyed a second time as part of the DLHE survey. Therefore, those who were surveyed in 2002/03 were the first cohort available to be surveyed a second time. The arrangements put in place ensured that leavers were aware that they may be contacted again as part of a follow-up survey, that this might mean that their contact details would be passed to a third party (the contractor) and that they have the option to opt-out of possible inclusion in the survey. This information is imparted to qualifiers at the first stage of the DLHE survey, by way of the covering letters and emails which accompany the questionnaire. Institutions should always use these letters and emails when contacting qualifiers at the first stage and record any opt-out information reliably; thus they will have made appropriate arrangements.


What data protection issues might arise?

Data protection issues include the accuracy of contact details and the fairness of using them for the purpose of the survey. If institutions always use the letter and email texts provided by HESA to undertake the Early DLHE survey each time they contact a leaver then there should be no issues.

Problems might arise when institutions have told qualifiers something that is different from the way the survey is to operate, or if e.g. a department which does not manage the DLHE Survey tells the leaver something that contradicts the information in the letter and email texts. Institutions should investigate what fair processing statements have been given to their qualifiers. If, in the institution’s view, qualifiers have been given statements that are inconsistent with the passing of contact details to a third party organisation conducting the Longitudinal Survey, then the institution should take steps to rectify this. Examples of inconsistencies are: when qualifiers have been told that their details will not be passed to any third party, or only to a third party agent of the institution, or when the institution feels that passing contact details for this purpose will be out of the expectations of the leaver.

If an institution is concerned that it has issued inconsistent information to its qualifiers then this should be rectified by issuing an updated fair processing notice to qualifiers. This can be done when the list of those to be included in the sample is received. Some example text to send to these qualifiers is:

You may remember completing a survey six months after you qualified, which asked what you were doing after you completed your higher education course. A follow-up of that survey is taking place to see what qualifiers are doing a further three years later and you are invited to take part in this survey. If you would like to take part then we will pass your contact details to the organisation HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) has contracted to undertake this survey. This organisation will use your details only for the purpose of the survey, and will then destroy them. If you do not want to take part in this follow-up survey, please let us know. More information can be found on the HESA website.


Exactly what data are institutions required to pass to the contractor?

It is part of the criteria for any leaver to be contacted as part of the follow-up survey that they must have responded to the first stage of the survey and that they have not opted out of being contacted as part of the follow-up.

Institutions will be required to forward to IFF Research postal address, telephone and email contact details for those leavers who are in the sample. Also, IFF Research will request only the email addresses for all of the remaining leavers from the cohort who responded to the Early Survey and who did not opt out of being contacted as part of the follow-up. The leavers in the sample are contacted to take part in the survey using any of the methods available (electronic, postal or telephone survey) but those leavers (who did not opt-out and for whom an email address is available) not part of the sample are only contacted by email. Surveying those leavers for whom an email address is available, in addition to surveying those in the sample, was introduced for the 2008/09 survey as a way of boosting response to the survey. As for those in the sample, these leavers will have had the opportunity to opt-out of any follow-up and so are able to be invited to take part in the survey using this effectively cost-free method of contact.

It is important that institutions should only pass the contact details to the contractor for those leavers who did not, at the first stage, and did not at any time between then and the occasion the details were requested, object to being contacted again as part of the follow-up survey. Institutions should record this information reliably so that it can be referred to when the sample selection is drawn and when email addresses for all other leavers are requested in order that these leavers can be excluded from the follow-up survey.

The contractor will pass a list of leavers’ names and identifiers (only those in the sample) to the institution in order for the leavers to be identified.

When the survey is completed IFF Research will pass any updated contact details for leavers back to institutions in order for them to update their records.


Will the contact details be used for anything other than the DLHE Longitudinal Survey?

No. The contact details will not be used for any purpose other than for the follow-up survey and they will be deleted after this purpose has been fulfilled. Neither HESA nor its Statutory Customers will see these contact details. If during the survey the contractor obtains more recent contact information, these updates are sent to the relevant institution for them to use for their own purposes e.g. alumni mailing.

You can view the Data protection agreements between HESA and IFF Research.

For further data protection information please visit the Data protection home page.


Contact Liaison by email or on +44 (0)1242 388 531.