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Frequently asked questions for HE providers 2012/13 survey

Version 1.0 2016-09-13

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 providers (HEPs) using standard documentation provided by HESA and with a target population comprising those who left HEPs with certain qualifications during a specific period. The data from this survey is collected by providers and returned to HESA for use in producing statistics, as well as allowing government departments, funding bodies and regulators (HESA's "Statutory Customers") to fulfil their public functions. 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 providers are involved in this second stage, although not in the submission of data to HESA. When the survey is complete each provider will receive the data from its own leavers' responses for statistical use.

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

The DLHE Longitudinal Survey is conducted every two years and the 2012/13 leavers will be surveyed out over the winter of 2016/17.

Who will be carrying out the current (2016/17) DLHE Longitudinal Survey?

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 Autumn 2016. A member of your organisation will have agreed to be the point of contact for the DLHE Longitudinal Survey. This colleague will be the person IFF Research contacts during the course of the survey.

Why are HE providers 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 providers.

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

The sample of leavers to be surveyed will be determined centrally by HESA. IFF Research will contact HE providers requesting the contact details of all graduates who left your institution in the 2012/13 academic year and completed the Early DLHE Survey (except for those who completed through a third party or other informed source). Providers 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 organisation 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 providers to contact them in connection with the information they have given.

What are the 'appropriate data protection arrangements'?

The HESA DLHE Collection Notice for 2012/13 and its covering emails or letters informed leavers that they may be contacted again as part of a follow-up survey. This might mean that their contact details would be passed to a third party (the contractor) and they had the option to opt-out of possible inclusion in the survey. By using the covering letters and emails which accompany the questionnaires when contacting qualifiers at the first stage and recording any opt-out information reliably; providers should have made appropriate arrangements.

A Longitudinal DLHE Collection Notice has been prepared by HESA and will be made available by IFF Research.

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 providers 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 providers 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. Providers should investigate what fair processing statements have been given to their qualifiers. If, in the organisation'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 organisation 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 provider, or when the provider feels that passing contact details for this purpose will be out of the expectations of the leaver.

If an organisation 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 HE providers 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.

IFF Research will pass a list of leavers' names and identifiers to your organisation in order for the leavers to be identified and the appropriate contact details provided. Your organisation will then be required to forward to IFF Research postal address, telephone and email contact details for all graduates who left your institution in the 2012/13 academic year and completed the Early DLHE Survey (except for those who completed through a third party or other informed source). 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 or mobile number is available) not part of the sample are only contacted by email or text message. Surveying those leavers for whom an email address or mobile number 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 your organisation should only pass the contact details to the contractor for those leavers who did not object (at any stage) to being contacted again as part of the follow-up survey. Your organisation should have recorded 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.

When the survey is completed IFF Research will pass any updated contact details for leavers back to the relevant provider, where the leavers have consented to them doing so, to enable providers' Alumni records to be kept up to date.

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

No. The contact details your organisation has provided 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. When the survey is complete IFF Research will pass any updated contact details for leavers back to the relevant provider, where the leavers have consented to them doing so, to enable providers' Alumni records to be kept up to date.

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 01242 211144.