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Further guidance on FTE reporting

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HESA Student Record 2007/08

Further guidance on FTE reporting


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Version 1.2 Produced 2007-09-07

The following notes give further guidance that institutions may wish to follow in establishing an appropriate Student FTE.

Notes

Student FTE represents the institution's best academic judgement of the full-time equivalence of the student (for this record) during the HESA reporting year 01 August - 31 July. It is recognised that this cannot be exact in all cases and a strict pro-rata model is not expected. The aim is to give a better approximation than the use of arbitrary conversion factors. The Student FTE should not be weighted to take account of any resourcing implications of different programmes of study.

A 'full-time, full year' HESA student should correspond to a full-time student as understood by the funding councils. The Student FTE of such a student will normally be 100% (100.0). The funding councils have agreed that a common definition of full-time is that years of study must involve a minimum of 24 weeks study (note that this definition does not apply to final year students in institutions in Wales).

Full-time, full year students would normally be returned as 100.0. The student FTE should not be weighted to take account of any resourcing implications of different courses. For example, both a full-time, full year undergraduate student and a full-time, full year postgraduate student will usually be returned as 100.0. A comparison of different full-time, full year programmes of study, for example according to the number of weeks studied, or the number of credits taken, is not expected.

The full-time equivalence of students on part-time courses should be established by comparison with a comparable full-time course. Part-time students should be returned as a proportion of an equivalent full-time course. The Student FTE of part-time study can be estimated on either a 'credit' or 'time' basis.

For example, institutions operating a credit points system can use the number of credit points that may be obtained from the current year of the part-time course compared with the number of credit points that may be obtained from the current year of a related full-time course. For example, if the number of points that could be obtained from the current year of the programme were 120 for full-time students and 90 for part-time students, then the Student FTE would be 100% (100.0) for the full-time students and 75% (075.0) for the part-time students.

An alternative approach is to compare the times taken to achieve the qualification. If there is a course leading to a certain qualification which normally requires three years of study for a conventional full-time student, and if that same qualification can be gained by part-time students in five years, the Student FTE for part-time students on the course would be 60% (060.0).

The Student FTE of students following courses which are not directly comparable to a 'standard' full-time course, should be determined by credit rating if possible. For professional courses the advice of the professional awarding body can be sought. Otherwise institutions are asked to make an academic judgement in relating the course to another part-time course of a similar level and similar academic subject which is comparable to a 'standard' full-time course. It is recognised that the comparison with full-time courses will not be exact in all cases, but the aim is to give a better approximation than the use of arbitrary conversion factors.

Modules

Within the record structure, the Student FTE for part-time or part-year students will typically be the sum of the FTEs of the modules taken by the student.

Modules taken can include retakes. Where a student takes only part of a module, for example because of dropping out/changing modules, the FTE could be calculated according to the proportion of the module studied. However, a strict pro rata model is not required. It is assumed that institutions can exclude cases where students register for modules but immediately drop them. If the student has taken a substantial amount of the module, the whole of the module can be counted for the purpose of calculating the FTE.

It is recognised that the sum of the FTEs of the modules taken will not necessarily sum to the value shown in Instance.STULOAD. This particularly applies to full-time full year students where an entry of 100.0 is normally expected in Instance.STULOAD. For example, should such a student take more than the normal number of modules in the current year, the sum of the Module.FTE of the modules taken may be greater than 100.0. For the purpose of analysis, however, users of HESA data may subsequently choose to use either measure of FTE.

There may also be a difference between Instance.STULOAD and the sum of the Module.FTE of the modules where modules are shared between different courses, and therefore may have a different proportion of FTE depending on which course is being considered. In these cases, it is recommended that separate module identifiers and records should be specified for each course, with each such module record recording the FTE that applies when the module is taken for that course.

Where a student transfers from one study route to another within the same student instance, only one record is required for the student showing Student FTE as the total actual over the HESA return period 01 August - 31 July. All modules taken by the student during the reporting year should be attached to the instance.

Non-standard years

In the case of years of programme which span two HESA reporting years (for example an MSc student with a 01 October - 30 September year) the Student FTE should be split across the two HESA reporting years. This should normally be based on the modules studied in each of the reporting years and where modules span reporting years a reasonable approximation will need to be made for the FTE contributed by those modules (for example the institution might report 85% of the FTE related to the period October - July and 15% to the period August - September). Similarly with research students commencing studies part-way through the year, the Student FTE may be split across two HESA reporting years. For example, in the case of a full-time research student commencing studies at Easter, the FTE of 100.0 may be split 033.0 in the first reporting year and 067.0 in the next.

Special cases

Where it is the case that students are studying at a greater intensity than is the norm for their qualification aim, and are therefore achieving that qualification in a significantly shorter time than is usual for the full-time route for that qualification, then institutions may return a Student FTE greater than 100.0. For example, if some students are studying at a rate which enables them to achieve after only two years a qualification which is usually obtained after three years full-time study, the Student FTE for these students would be 150% (150.0). Over a period of time it will be possible to cross-tabulate the FTEs with the length of time taken by students to gain the qualification and compare this with the norms for the HE sector as a whole. For the purpose of some analyses, however, users of HESA data may decide to treat all full-time students as 100.0, regardless of what is entered in Instance.STULOAD. Institutions should note that the funding councils have confirmed that funding for full-time students is currently unaffected by the FTE entered in Instance.STULOAD. However, institutions should be aware that reviews of funding methodologies might change the position.

Where it is the case that the institution offers some courses which require more years of full-time study than other courses leading to a qualification which is at the same level, these courses do not need to be calibrated to relate to those other courses. It is recognised that some qualifications take longer than others.

Where it is the case that some individual students have to repeat part of a course, then their individual Student FTEs summed over the course as a whole will be greater then that normally assumed for the whole course. For example, a three year full-time degree would usually be assumed to be Student FTE 100.0 in Year 1, 100.0 in Year 2 and 100.0 in Year 3. An individual student repeating a year would have an additional year with Student FTE of 100.0. Over the instance as a whole, that individual student therefore would have a Student FTE of 400.0 and not the more usual 300.0.

Similarly, in the case of a part-time MSc student expected to complete in two years with a Student FTE of 050.0 in each year. If the student takes a third year to complete their MSc then that individual student would have an additional year with Student FTE of 050.0 and their Student FTE over the instance as a whole would sum to 150.0 and not 100.0.

The Student FTE is primarily decided on academic judgement of the comparison of a part-time course compared with a full-time benchmark course. It should represent the normal pattern expected for most/the typical student on the course. It would be expected, therefore, that only a few students would be exceptions to this normal pattern, as in the examples shown above. If all or most of the students on the course become exceptions, then this suggests it should be regarded as the normal pattern and the Student FTE assumed for the course should be changed accordingly.

For students suspending studies for the return year, i.e. codes 51, 63 or 64 in Instance.MODE, a 000.0 Student FTE should be recorded.

For thick sandwich students out on a year's placement and full-time students taking a study related year out (codes 23, 52 and 53 in Instance.MODE) a Student FTE of 100.0 is expected although HEFCE will assume an FTE of 050.0 in funding calculations. For certain analyses, however, the load on the institution for these students will be taken as either 050.0 or 000.0.

The Student FTE of students who are taught under a collaborative or franchising arrangement should not be reduced to take account of this arrangement. For example, a full-time student franchised out for the whole year will (if within the scope of the return) be returned as 100.0 in this field. The franchising amount will be shown by Module.PCOLAB of the modules, returned, in this example, as 100.0.

Similarly, it is not expected that the Student FTE should be reduced for exchange out arrangements (but see note about institutions in Scotland below). To take account of this, for exchange in students a 000.0 student FTE will be assumed. It is recognised that the FTEs do not necessarily balance out if there is a difference in the number of exchange students or their length of stay, but this approach gives ease of implementation for institutions and, relative to the FTE of the institution as a whole, the difference should not be significant. However institutions in Scotland may give an FTE for incoming exchange and visiting students since SFC allows institutions to count incoming exchange and visiting students as eligible for funding and hence otherwise has to separately collect this information.

For research postgraduates where there is no teaching input and unspecified time for completion, comparison should be made with the institution's norms for the full-time course, ignoring any extended writing-up period: for example, a PhD student with three years full-time study with a Student FTE of 100.0 and an additional writing-up year with a Student FTE of 025.0. Comparisons when assessing the Student FTE of part-time PhD students should be with reference to the formal three years full-time study, ignoring the writing-up year. Hence a PhD student with six years part-time study would have a Student FTE of 050.0. Students who are taking longer and longer to write-up would have a reduced FTE in this field.

Students following two courses leading to two different qualification aims should be returned on two separate records using the same Student identifier but different Student instance numbers. Instance.STULOAD in each Instance should refer only to the FTE for the course specified in that record.

Where a student transfers from one programme of study route to another within the same student instance, only one record is required for the student showing the current or latest position in most fields (i.e. the position that applied just before the person ceased to be a student). Student FTE, however, should be calculated as the average over the HESA reporting year 01 August - 31 July.

Where a student is studying a foundation degree bridging course the FTE recorded should be increased to reflect this. Where the bridging course spans HESA reporting years the load should all be returned in the second HESA reporting year, this differs from the method used for other non-standard academic years. Institutions should also indicate in Instance.BRIDGE that the student has studied a foundation degree bridging course in the year in which the FTE is increased. It may be that the inclusion of a foundation degree bridging course means that the year of programme of study becomes non-standard. However, where the year would otherwise have been recorded as a standard academic year the year should still be recorded as such.

A student completes a foundation degree in June 2007 and then undertakes a bridging course from July to September and then joins the final year of a degree which they complete in June 2008.

FieldJuly 2007July 2008
Course.COURSEAIMJ10H00
Instance.STULOAD100.0130.0
Instance.TYPEYR11
Course.BRIDGEN/A1

Where a student only studies a bridging course in the academic year they should return Course.COURSEAIM, with a value of H90, 'Credits at Level H' (that is, when a student withdraws during or following completion of the course, or where they transfer in from another institution before starting the course). Where a student undertakes a foundation degree and bridging course in the same academic year Instance.FUNDCOMP, should reflect whether the student completed the foundation degree and will therefore usually be returned with a value of 1. Similarly where the student progresses to a degree after completion of the bridging course Instance.FUNDCOMP should reflect the completion status of the degree.

Institutions in Scotland

In the case of course academic years which span two HESA reporting years (for example an MSc student with a 01 October - 30 September year), in principle, the Student FTE should be split across the two HESA reporting years. However, provided that the load across the cost centres and the distribution between subjects for the student on the year of course will be similar in the parts of the year of the course which fall into the two HESA reporting years, and providing that institutions do not count a full-time student as more than 100% (and the appropriate percentage for a part-time student) for any one year of course, institutions do not have to split the FTE calculation over the 31 July boundary unless they choose to do so. For example (provided that the above conditions are satisfied), a student on a one-year course running from January 2007 to December 2008 could have a student FTE of 100% shown in the 2007/08 Student Record and a Student FTE of 0% shown in the 2008/09 Student Record. It must be emphasised that, under this option, records should be returned for the student in each of the HESA reporting years which are spanned by the year of course. If adopting this approach, institutions must be consistent year on year as to the return in which they record the student FTE (for example, always counting it in the return for the first of the two HESA reporting years which the course academic year spans) and any departure from this would have to be justified to SFC and HESA.

If this option is chosen, the load across the cost centres and subjects relating to the course academic year as a whole will be assumed to fall in the one reporting year and a cost centre breakdown will not be sought for Student FTEs of 000.0 shown for the other reporting year. Therefore, the cost centres, subjects and percentages shown should relate to the year of the course academic year as a whole and include allowances for the period which falls in the following HESA reporting year.

Where the pattern of cost centres or subjects involved may differ significantly between the parts of the course academic year that fall into the two HESA reporting years, or is unknown, for example, because of option choices, then institutions should split the Student FTE between the two HESA reporting years, perhaps using a broad approximation as indicated above.

Institutions in Scotland are required to indicate the method used in calculating Student FTE in Instance.FTEMETHOD

Institutions in Scotland may give an FTE for incoming exchange and visiting students since SFC allows institutions to count incoming exchange and visiting students as eligible for funding and hence otherwise has to separately collect this information.

A suggested approach to calculating Student FTE for the current HESA reporting year

FTE should be based on modules studied in a reporting year. Institutions in England may if they wish assign individual modules that span reporting years specifically to reporting years (see StudentOnModule.MODYR).

STUDENT FTE = p x [r] x s = p x t where :

    p = the proportion that the course academic year represents of 1 FTE

    r = a possible adjustment in cases where the course academic year overlaps two HESA reporting years

    s = the amount of the course academic year that the student actually followed

The values of 'p' and 'r' give the FTE for the course academic year in the current HESA reporting year. All students following the course would initially be assumed to have the Student FTE p x r. The calculation of p x r is the principal calculation for Student FTE. An adjustment 's' may need to be made at individual student level if a student did not actually follow the whole course academic year, e.g. because they left half way through. This individual student adjustment need only be at a very broad-brush level.

'r' and 's' are similar calculations, although 'r' is course specific and 's' is student specific. They could be combined into a single calculation 't' where

        number of time periods in course academic year that the student followed in the reporting period  
t =     ________________________________________________________________________________________________
  
        number of time periods in course academic year

The calculation of Student FTE therefore becomes a function of proportion (that the course represents of a full-time benchmark course) x time (amount of the course that the student followed in the reporting year).

i.e. Student FTE = p x t

p = the proportion that the course/programme year represents of 1 FTE

The proportion that the course academic year represents of 1 FTE is the institution's best academic judgement of the full-time equivalence of non-full-time study. The proportion 'p' is a comparison of part-time courses compared to comparable full-time courses.

'p' may be considered as the :

		part-time course 'value'
		__________________________________   x 100
							
		full-time benchmark course 'value'

Examples for establishing 'p' are:

  • 30/120 credit points taken in a year. In the case of a part-time student registered for 30 credit points at an institution where the norm for a full-time student is 120 credit points in a year, 'p' = 025.0.
  • 3/8 modules/equivalent parts of course taken in a year. In the case of a part-time student registered for three modules at an institution where the norm for a full-time student with the same qualification aim is eight modules in a year, 'p' = 037.5.
  • 5/3 years to obtain the qualification. In the case of a part-time student who is expected to gain their qualification after five years study, when a student studying full-time for the same qualification aim would be expected to gain their qualification after three years study, 'p' = 060.0.

Where there is no direct comparator for calculating 'p', institutions are asked to make an academic judgement in relating the course to another course of a similar level and similar academic subject which is comparable to a 'standard' full-time course.

r = a possible adjustment in cases where the course/programme year overlaps two HESA reporting years

(This adjustment is not needed in cases where the course academic year is contained within the HESA reporting year 01 August - 31 July.)

The proportion 'p' is a comparison of part-time courses compared to comparable full-time courses. No account is taken of how the current year of a particular course fits the HESA reporting year.

An adjustment may be required where the course academic year overlaps two HESA reporting years because the course academic year either commenced before the HESA reporting year (i.e. before 01 August) or will finish after the end of the HESA reporting year (i.e. after 31 July).

Where the course academic year overlaps two HESA reporting years, institutions should split the proportion 'p' across the reporting years (i.e. apply the factor 'r')

        number of time periods in course academic year that are within HESA reporting year 
r =     __________________________________________________________________________________
  
        number of time periods in course academic year

For example:

Postgraduate year October - September:

This could be split 10/12 (months, October - July) in HESA reporting year 1 and 2/12 (months, August - September) in HESA reporting year 2.

Non-standard January - December academic year:

This could be split 7/12 (months, January - July) in HESA reporting year 1 and 5/12 (months, August - December) in HESA reporting year 2.

s = the amount of the course/programme year that the student actually followed

The values of 'p' and 'r' give the FTE for the course. All students following the course would initially be assumed to have the Student FTE p x r in the current HESA reporting year. The calculation of p x r is the principal calculation for Student FTE. An adjustment 's' may need to be made at individual student level if a student did not actually follow all of the course academic year, e.g. because they left half way through. This individual student adjustment need only be at a very broad-brush level.

        number of time periods in course academic year student followed in the reporting year    
s =     _____________________________________________________________________________________

        number of time periods in course academic year which fell in the reporting year

For example:

  • 10/36 weeks attended
  • 3/12 months attended
  • 1/3 terms attended
  • 1/2 semesters attended

based upon whatever information is available from the institution's administrative records about how long the student attended the course. It is appreciated that institutions may know only roughly when a student left a course. Where a student transfers from one programme of study route to another within the same student instance, only one record is required for the student, showing Student FTE as the average over the HESA return period 01 August - 31 July.

For example:

Postgraduate academic year October - September. Student leaves at Christmas.

p = 100.0
r = 10/12 (months) = 083.0 and 2/12 = 017.0
s = 3/10 x 083.0 = Student FTE 025.0 for year 1 (and zero for year 2)

Non-standard January - December academic year. Student leaves at the summer break in July.

p = 100.0
r = 7/12 (months) = 058.3 and 5/12 = 041.7
s = 7/7 x 058.3 = Student FTE 058.3 for year 1 (and zero for year 2)

t = the amount of the course that the student followed in the reporting year

'r' and 's' are similar calculations, although 'r' is course specific and 's' is student specific. They could be combined into a single calculation 't' where

        number of time periods in course academic year that the student followed in the reporting year    
t =     ______________________________________________________________________________________________

        number of time periods in course academic year

The calculation of Student FTE therefore becomes a function of proportion (that the course represents of a full-time benchmark course) x time (amount of the course that the student followed in the reporting year).

i.e. Student FTE = p x t

For example:

Postgraduate academic year October - September. Student leaves at Christmas.

p = 100.0
t = 3/12 (months)
Student FTE = p x t = 025.0

Non-standard January - December academic year. Student leaves at the summer break in July.

p = 100.0
t = 7/12 (months)
Student FTE = p x t = 058.3

Examples of calculating Student FTE

A student studies full-time for the full HESA reporting year (p = 100.0, t = 1/1). In this case the Student FTE will be 100.0%. This field should thus be returned as 100.0.

A student studies full-time for half of the full HESA reporting year (p = 100.0, t = 1/2). In this case the Student FTE will be 50.0%. This field should thus be returned as 050.0.

A student studies part-time for the full HESA reporting year. The proportion of the part-time course compared with a comparable full-time benchmark course is estimated as 20% (p = 020.0, t = 1/1). In this case the Student FTE will be 20.0%. This field should thus be returned as 020.0.

A student studies part-time for half of the full HESA reporting year. The proportion of the part-time course compared with a comparable full-time benchmark course is estimated as 20% (p = 020.0, t = 1/2). In this case the Student FTE will be 10.0%. This field should thus be returned as 010.0.

A student studies full-time for the first half of the year and then changes to studying part-time. The proportion of the part-time course compared with a comparable full-time benchmark course is estimated as 20%. Student FTE should be calculated as the average over the return year.

100% for half a year (p = 100.0, t = 1/2) = 50%
20% for half a year (p = 020.0, t = 1/2) = 10%

Calculated Student FTE = 50% + 10% = 60%, to be returned as 060.0

A student studies part-time for the first half of the year and then becomes dormant. The proportion of the part-time course compared with a comparable full-time benchmark course is estimated as 60%. Student FTE should be calculated as the average over the return year.

60% for half a year (p = 060.0, t = 1/2) = 30%
0% for half a year (p = 000.0, t = 1/2) = 0%

Calculated Student FTE = 30% + 0% = 30%, to be returned as 030.0.

Examples for non-standard academic years

In the case of a course running from January 2007 to December 2008, the returns to HESA might be made as follows:

2007/08 return: Year of course = 1, Student FTE in 2007/08 = 67% (067.0)
2008/09 return: Year of course = 2, Student FTE in 2008/09 = 100% (100.0)
2009/10 return: Year of course = 2, course completed, Student FTE in 2008/09 = 33% (033.0)

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