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Widening participation (tables T1, T2, T7)

These tables provide information about the participation of certain groups in higher education relative to the HE population as a whole.

Table series T1 and T2 look at the percentage of UK domiciled students from state schools or colleges, specified socio-economic classes and low-participation neighbourhoods and provide a breakdown by HE provider. The supplementary tables (SP1 - SP7) provide some background information and context figures for the sector used in the derivation of the benchmarks.

Table T7 provides information about the percentage of disabled students in the sector. It covers all UK domiciled undergraduate students, rather than just entrants. All full-time students and those part-time students who are studying at least 50% of the time are included. The supplementary table SD1 provides a breakdown by subject and entry qualifications.

UK Performance Indicators 2014/15: Widening participation

Release date: 4 February 2016

Our widening participation Performance Indicators explore the extent of specific groups' participation in higher education. Tables document the percentage of students:

  • From state schools or colleges
  • From specified socio-economic classes
  • From low-participation neighbourhoods
  • In receipt of DSA.

Tables included:

  • Table T1a - Participation of under-represented groups in higher education: UK domiciled young full-time first degree entrants 2014/15
  • Table T1b - Participation of under-represented groups in higher education: UK domiciled young full-time undergraduate entrants 2014/15
  • Table T1c - Participation of under-represented groups in higher education: UK domiciled young full-time other undergraduate entrants 2014/15
  • Table T2a - Participation of under-represented groups in higher education: UK domiciled mature full-time undergraduate entrants 2014/15
  • Table T2b - Participation of under-represented groups in higher education: UK domiciled part-time undergraduate entrants 2014/15
  • Table T2c - Participation of under-represented groups in higher education: UK domiciled mature full-time other undergraduate entrants 2014/15
  • Table T7 - Participation of UK domiciled students in higher education who are in receipt of Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA): all undergraduates 2014/15
  • Table SD1 - Percentage of UK domiciled full-time first degree student students in receipt of Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) by subject and entry qualifications 2014/15
  • Table SP1: Percentage of UK domiciled young full-time first degree entrants from under-represented groups by Government Office region of domicile 2014/15
  • Table SP2 - UK domiciled young entrants to full-time first degree courses by subject and entry qualifications 2014/15
  • Table SP3 - UK domiciled mature entrants to full-time first degree courses by subject and entry qualifications 2014/15
  • Table SP4 - Percentage of UK domiciled young entrants to full-time first degree courses from state schools** by subject and entry qualification 2014/15
  • Table SP5 - Percentage of UK domiciled young entrants to full-time first degree courses from NS-SEC Classes 4, 5, 6 and 7 by subject and entry qualification 2014/15
  • Table SP6 - Percentage of UK domiciled young entrants to full-time first degree courses from POLAR3 low participation^ neighbourhoods by subject and entry qualification 2014/15
  • Table SP7 - Percentage of UK domiciled mature entrants to full-time first degree courses from POLAR3 low participation neighbourhoods^ by subject and entry qualification 2014/15
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Widening participation of under-represented groups (T1, T2) - Notes

In 2011/12, the method used to produce the low participation indicator has changed from using POLAR2 to the more up to date POLAR3 method. Prior to 2006/07 the low participation indicator used the Super Profiles method. The three low participation methods are not comparable, but the POLAR3 method has been run back to 2009/10 and the POLAR2 method has been run forward to allow some comparisons. Table T1a has also been produced using both the POLAR2 and Super Profiles methods for 2005/06. The POLAR3 data was updated in July 2015 and this updated version was used in the creation of the Performance Indicators from 2014/15. The updated version includes new postcodes which have been added in the UK in recent times. For more details on the methods, please refer to the definitions page.

Following the 2013 fundamental review of the UK Performance Indicators (UKPIs), the UK Performance Indicators Steering Group (UKPISG) committed to undertake an in-depth review process of the UKPIs relating to widening the higher education participation of under-represented groups. Having made progress with this review, UKPISG is able to confirm the discontinuation of the UKPI based on National Statistics Social Economic Classifications 4 to 7. The indicator will appear for the last time in the 2016 publication of the widening participation UKPIs: it will not be published in 2017 and subsequent UKPI publications.

Stakeholder consultation within the 2013 fundamental review of the UKPIs had reinforced existing UKPISG concerns that the data underlying the NS-SEC based indicator was of poor quality. Further advice was received from the UK Performance Indicators Technical Group in February 2014 [pdf 58 KB] (in an assessment of how well the existing WP UKPIs match the principles agreed for UKPIs [pdf 16 KB]). And roundtable discussions held with an expert group (convened to advise on the in-depth review of the widening participation UKPIs) in December 2014 provided further confirmation [pdf 86 KB] that the data used for the indicator is widely acknowledged to be of poor quality.

It is on the basis that this evidence conflicts significantly with the agreed principle (B2) for UKPIs that the UKPISG have confirmed the removal of this indicator. Principle B2 states that ‘UKPIs should be evidence-based and statistically robust, conforming to recognised best practice in the production of statistical information. Data used for the indicator should be of high quality collected in a consistent and fair way across the sector; [it] should have a good sample base, use consistent definitions, and use a transparent methodology’.

HEFCE’s July 2015 circular letter "Invitation to comment on future changes to the UK Performance Indicators" provides further context for the decision to remove the NS-SEC based indicator, as well as information on other changes to be implemented in the 2016 publications of UKPIs.

Young full-time undergraduate entrants (tables T1, SP1, SP2, SP4, SP5, SP6)

T1a to T1c relate to young students who entered the HE provider in the specified academic year. The change in UCAS question for 2008/09 applicants has had an impact on the NS-SEC indicators, making them incomparable with data published prior to and post 2008/09. As a result, the 2008/09 NS-SEC data has been published separately in tables T1ai, T1bi and T1ci and labelled as age-adjusted NS-SEC.

Mature full-time and part-time undergraduate entrants

The indicator used for full-time mature entrants is the percentage, in a slightly adapted form, who come from ‘low participation’ neighbourhoods. Around a quarter of mature entrants to first degree courses at a HE provider have previously obtained a higher education qualification. When such students were originally in higher education, they would have been included in the participation calculations at that time. Therefore, for mature students, the participation indicator has been taken as the percentage of entrants who have come from a low participation neighbourhood and do not have a previous HE qualification. These are given in tables T2a and T2c.

For part-time students, the information available is often not as comprehensive as that for full-time students. In particular, information on NS-SEC and school type is not available. The participation indicator used is therefore the same as that for mature full-time students: the percentage of entrants who come from a low participation neighbourhood and have no previous HE qualification. This indicator is given separately for young and mature entrants in table T2b. 

Widening participation of students who are in receipt of DSA (table T7)

The indicator is the percentage of students who are in receipt of Disabled Students’ Allowance. This is less than the percentage who are recorded as disabled, but should prove to be more robust. A number of people have noted that students do not have to inform their HE provider that they are in receipt of DSA and so potentially there could be a substantial undercount of the numbers involved. This does not appear to be a major problem.

The number of part-time students at an HE provider can be small. Combined with the extremely small percentages of disabled students in the group, the values of the indicator in such cases could be very variable. They should therefore be interpreted with care.

In 2007/08 and 2008/09, data for the Open University have been excluded from the part-time figures due to changes introduced by HESA to the method of apportioning FTEs between years which has affected the count of Open University part-time students.

The table is in three sections, one covering full-time first degree students, one covering full-time undergraduates (on first degree, diploma and other undergraduate non-degree courses) and the third covering part-time undergraduates studying at least 50% of the time. Each section gives the number of students in the category, the percentage who are in receipt of DSA (the indicator) and the benchmark. The benchmark is based on entry qualifications of the students and their subject of study.

The main table T7 provides a breakdown by HE provider. The supplementary table (SD1) provide some background information and context figures for the sector used in the derivation of the benchmarks.