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Widening participation: UK Performance Indicators 2020/21

UK Performance Indicators: Widening Participation

This edition of the UK Performance Indicators will be the last release in this current form. A review of existing indicators will determine which measures will be migrated into core official statistics and open data published in 2023. Please see this news item and associated blog post for more information.

From 2020/21, HESA are no longer producing POLAR data for Northern Ireland. Low participation indicators based on POLAR4 data for providers in Northern Ireland have not been produced for this year.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organisation in March 2020, just over half way through the 2019/20 academic year. An insight brief has been published that analyses the impact of the pandemic on student data and trends across years of enrolments and qualifications across various characteristics. There are two known areas in which the pandemic has had some impact:

  • There is evidence to suggest that among a few providers, administrative hold-ups related to the pandemic resulted in significant numbers of qualifications awarded in 2019/20 not being reported. The impact of this under-reporting is believed to explain some of the 3% decrease in the number of qualifications achieved in 2019/20 compared with 2018/19, and the impact is most noticeable on the number of part-time qualifications awarded. Qualifications that were not reported in the 2019/20 academic year have carried over to 2020/21 and contributed to the 9% increase in the number of qualifications awarded in 2020/21.
  • In relation to classifications of first degrees and other awards, many providers issued public statements that a 'no detriment' approach would be adopted when it came to assessment in 2019/20. This typically ensured that students would be awarded a final grade no lower than the most recent provider assessment of their attainment.

Qualifications awarded are not used in the widening participation indicators, but are used in the non-continuation indicators.

The 2019/20 and 2020/21 data was collected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Exceptional guidance was issued to HE providers regarding a number of data fields within the collections to clarify HESA's expectations about how these fields should be treated in light of the pandemic.

This release contains detailed information on: entrants from under-represented groups and students in receipt of Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) for 2015/16 to 2020/21.

View the summary widening participation tables and charts

The purpose of the indicators is to provide an objective measure of how the UK higher education (HE) sector is performing. 

The rounding strategy has been applied to all published figures. Suppressed figures and low participation data for Northern Irish and Scottish providers are represented as blanks.

Tables and charts included within this release include an academic year filter, allowing users to change between the current and previous years of data. For releases prior to 2015/16 please see historic data.

Participation of under-represented groups in higher education (Table series T1 and T2)

Table series T1 and T2 give information about the participation of groups that are under-represented in HE, relative to the population as a whole. The tables look at the percentage of UK domiciled students from state schools or colleges and POLAR4 low participation neighbourhoods and provide a breakdown by HE provider. Results are shown separately for young, mature, full-time and part-time students, because each of these groups have different characteristics.

The supplementary table below shows how the two indicators vary by Government Office region of where the student was living before starting their HE course.

Table WP1 - Percentage of under-represented groups by Government Office region of domicile

UK domiciled young full-time first degree entrants who did not leave within 50 days of commencement at HE providers 

Academic years of entry 2015/16 to 2020/21

 
 

Young full-time undergraduate entrants (Table T1)

The indicators for young full-time students in Tables T1a-T1c show, for each HE provider:

  • The percentage who attended a state school or college.
  • The percentage who come from a low participation neighbourhood (as denoted by its postcode) using the POLAR4 method. Previous releases of the UK Performance Indicators used the POLAR3 from 2011/12 to 2017/18, the POLAR2 method 2006/07 to 2010/11 and Super Profiles method prior to 2006/07. Please note that these three methods are not comparable, see definitions for further details. Low participation data is not produced for HE providers in Scotland and Northern Ireland and are shown as blank rows in these tables, for more information see definitions.  
  • Note that prior to the 2017 publication of the UK Performance Indicators, an additional indicator based on specified socio-economic classes was published. The changes document details why this indicator was discontinued.

Table T1 – Participation of under-represented groups in higher education

UK domiciled young full-time undergraduate entrants who did not leave within 50 days of commencement at HE providers

Academic years of entry 2015/16 to 2020/21

Entrants from: 

Show:

 
 
 
 
 
 

Mature full-time undergraduate entrants (Table T2a) and all part-time undergraduate entrants (T2b)

For mature students and for young part-time students, there is just one participation indicator, based on those who come from a POLAR4 low participation neighbourhood. Information on school type is not available for the majority of part-time and mature students so indicators have not been produced for these students. The low participation indicator has been slightly adapted to exclude those students who have previously obtained a higher education qualification as they would have been included in the participation calculations at that time. This indicator is provided in tables T2a-T2b and again excludes students studying at HE providers in Scotland and Northern Ireland, see definitions for details.

Table T2a - Participation of under-represented groups in higher education

UK domiciled mature full-time undergraduate entrants who did not leave with 50 days of commencement at HE providers

Academic years of entry 2015/16 to 2020/21

Show:

 
 
 
 
 
 

Table T2b - Participation of under-represented groups in higher education

UK domiciled part-time undergraduate entrants who did not leave within 50 days of commencement at HE providers

Academic years of entry 2015/16 to 2020/21

Show:

 
 
 
 
 
 

Particiption of under-represented groups - Supplementary tables

Supplementary table WP8 below provides a breakdown of full-time first degree entrants by the benchmark factors (entry qualifications and subject area) for both young and mature students to provide some contextual figures for the sector and in the derivation of the benchmarks. Supplementary table WP9 shows the percentage of students from state schools and from low participation neighbourhoods, again by the two benchmark factors. These tables only show data for 2020/21 due to the change from CAH subject version 1.2 to CAH subject version 1.3.4, for 2019/20 data using CAH version 1.2 please see Table WP5 and Table WP6. For earlier time series using JACS please see Table WP2 and Table WP3

Table WP8 - Entrants to full-time first degree courses by subject and entry qualifications

UK domiciled entrants who did not leave within 50 days of commencement at HE providers

Academic years of entry 2020/21

 
 
 

Table WP9 - Percentage of entrants from under-represented groups by subject and entry qualification

UK domiciled entrants who did not leave within 50 days of commencement at HE providers 

Academic years of entry 2020/21

 
 
 
 

Students in receipt of Disabled Students' Allowance (Table T7)

Table T7 provides information about 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 than the self reported disability data. It covers all UK domiciled undergraduate students, rather than just entrants, and counts individuals instead of instances. The table is split into 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.

Please note that changes to the Disabled Student Allowances administered through Student Finance England took effect in the academic years 2015/16 and 2016/17, see changes document for details. These changes mean that the DSA data is not comparable across these years.

Due to a change in the accessibility of DSA funding, the Open University have been included in benchmarking calculations from 2017/18. 

Table T7 - Participation of students in higher education who are in receipt of Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA)

UK domiciled undergraduates

Academic years 2015/16 to 2020/21

 
 
 
 
 
 

The supplementary table WP10 provides a breakdown of students in receipt of Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) by subject and entry qualifications. This tables only show data for 2020/21 due to the change from CAH version 1.2 to 1.3.4,  2019/20 data can be viewed in Table WP7 and for earlier time series using JACS please see Table WP4

Table WP10 - Percentage of students in receipt of Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) by subject and entry qualifications

UK domiciled full-time first degree students

Academic years 2020/21

 
 

View the summary widening participation tables and charts

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