Widening participation summary: UK Performance Indicators 2015/16
The purpose of the indicators is to provide an objective measure of how the UK higher education (HE) sector is performing.
Three key areas are covered, the first of which is widening participation and is the focus of this summary looking at the proportion of entrants among those from underrepresented backgrounds and those in receipt of disabled students’ allowance (DSA). Future publications this year will look at student retention and graduate employment. Only UK domiciled undergraduate entrants to publicly funded UK HE providers and the University of Buckingham are considered.
In contrast to previous years, we consider only two potential measures of background, namely the state school marker and the POLAR3 indicator.
The use of the National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (NS-SEC) as a measure has been discontinued, following concerns about the quality of the data collected for this variable. This is discussed in greater depth here.
Table series T1 provides the proportion of young entrants to each UK HE provider that are from state schools or colleges.
The three tables in T1 split the population by whether they are on a first degree or other undergraduate course, as well as providing the overall young full-time undergraduate entrant picture.
In Table A below, we provide a time-series which documents how the percentage of young full-time first degree entrants from state schools or colleges has changed over time across the four nations. Chart 1 illustrates the pattern in the UK overall, whilst Chart 2 demonstrates how the proportion varies within the HE sector.
All UK countries, apart from Northern Ireland, report a figure close to 90 per cent for the proportion of young full-time entrants from state schools or colleges in 2015/16.
Additional information on how the state school marker is generated is provided at the end of this publication.
Table A - Percentage of UK domiciled young full-time first degree entrants from state schools by location of HE provider and academic year
Table series T1 and T2 include data on students from low participation neighbourhoods covering both young and mature entrants on full-time and part-time undergraduate courses.
The definition of a low participation neighbourhood in 2015/16 is based on POLAR3, first introduced in 2011/12. It has been run back to 2009/10 for comparison purposes.
This replaced the POLAR2 classification, which was used from 2006/07 up until the creation of POLAR3. Prior to the POLAR categorisation, the Super Profiles method was utilised to determine low participation neighbourhoods.
While we continue to provide a table looking at the proportion of entrants from low participation neighbourhoods over time for each country across the POLAR3, POLAR2 and Super Profile measures, it should be noted that these indicators are not comparable.
Table B shows how the proportion of this group of students has evolved in the various UK countries. The table can be filtered by mode of study and age, as well as according to the method used to determine whether an individual is from a low participation neighbourhood. When looking at the POLAR3 measure, there is an additional filter to account for the changes to the allocation of the Open University (OU) students to individual countries in the UK.
Chart 3 supplies the time-series data for the UK overall and Chart 4 displays the disparities in the percentages from such groups across HE providers.
Among full-time first degree entrants, the percentages from low participation neighbourhoods according to the POLAR3 method has steadily risen over time across the UK.
With regards to part-time undergraduate entrants, a clear discrepancy is seen in the proportion from low participation neighbourhoods by age, with higher percentages reported for young students.
From 2014/15 onwards, entrants at the OU have been allocated to the country where their national centre is located, rather than being considered as part of England as they were previously. Chart B below therefore includes an additional filter for part-time undergraduate entrants from POLAR3 low participation neighbourhoods, additional information is provided at the end of this publication.
Table B - Percentage of UK domiciled young full-time first degree entrants from low participation neighbourhoods (POLAR3) by location of HE provider and academic year
Due to the varying ways in which low participation neighbourhoods have been defined over the years, these changes have been highlighted by the use of different colours in Chart 3 below. These different methods are not comparable and hence analysing time trends should only be done using the same classification method.
A disabled student is defined as one in receipt of DSA. Table T7 provides a breakdown by HE provider and Table C below provides sector level time trends for the proportion of DSA students for each country by mode of study.
Chart 5 shows how the proportion of DSA students differs across HE providers in the UK for full-time first degree entrants only.
In the table for part-time undergraduate entrants, a separate column is provided for the OU. This is due to the funding arrangements for these students being different at the OU compared to all other HE providers.
In 2015/16, the proportion of full-time first degree entrants in receipt of DSA was 6.9 per cent in the UK, while the figure was 3.5 per cent among part-time undergraduate entrants.
However, variations are also observed across the different countries within the UK.
Table C - Percentage of UK domiciled full-time first degree students in receipt of Disabled Students' Allowance by location of HE provider and academic year
- Table T1a - Participation of under-represented groups in higher education: UK domiciled young full-time first degree entrants 2015/16
- Table T1b - Participation of under-represented groups in higher education: UK domiciled young full-time undergraduate entrants 2015/16
- Table T1c - Participation of under-represented groups in higher education: UK domiciled young full-time other undergraduate entrants 2015/16
- Table T2a - Participation of under-represented groups in higher education: UK domiciled mature full-time undergraduate entrants 2015/16
- Table T2b - Participation of under-represented groups in higher education: UK domiciled part-time undergraduate entrants 2015/16
- Table T2c - Participation of under-represented groups in higher education: UK domiciled mature full-time other undergraduate entrants 2015/16
- Table T7 - Participation of UK domiciled students in higher education who are in receipt of Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA): all undergraduates 2015/16
- Table SD1 - Percentage of UK domiciled full-time first degree student students in receipt of Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) by subject and entry qualifications 2015/16
- Table SP1: Percentage of UK domiciled young full-time first degree entrants from under-represented groups by Government Office region of domicile 2015/16
- Table SP2 - UK domiciled young entrants to full-time first degree courses by subject and entry qualifications 2015/16
- Table SP3 - UK domiciled mature entrants to full-time first degree courses by subject and entry qualifications 2015/16
- Table SP4 - Percentage of UK domiciled young entrants to full-time first degree courses from state schools by subject and entry qualification 2015/16
- Table SP6 - Percentage of UK domiciled young entrants to full-time first degree courses from POLAR3 low participation neighbourhoods by subject and entry qualification 2015/16
- Table SP7 - Percentage of UK domiciled mature entrants to full-time first degree courses from POLAR3 low participation neighbourhoods by subject and entry qualification 2015/16
Are figures for the proportion of student entrants from state schools or colleges comparable over time?
Our figures do not factor in changes that may have occurred to the underlying population (e.g. how the percentage of secondary school pupils attending state schools or colleges has evolved in the UK over time).
Secondly, there has been a change in the way the state school marker is created. For new entrants from 2014/15, the last provider attended field we collect (PREVINST) must contain a valid UK Provider Reference Number (the unique identifier allocated to each provider) or a valid generic code (see here for further details), rather than historic UCAS, department and HESA school codes.
These have been mapped to school type and grouped to form the state school marker. In the case of an unknown or invalid PREVINST code, students have been excluded from the formation of the indicator. This alteration may have an impact on the quality of the school type data.
For these reasons, caution must be exercised when analysing the time series data.
Who classifies as a young entrant?
Young entrants are those aged under 21, whilst mature students are those aged 21 or over.
How do you define a state school or college?
This covers all schools and colleges (including further education colleges and publicly funded HE providers) that are not classed as independent.
What is the POLAR methodology?
The POLAR classification places local areas into five quintiles, based on the higher education participation rates of 18 year olds in the locality. Those with the lowest percentages are placed into quintile 1 and are considered to be the most disadvantaged, with quintile 5 having the highest rates.
An individual is deemed to be from a low participation neighbourhood if their area falls into quintile 1.
Please note that the various ways in which low participation neighbourhoods have been defined over the years are not comparable and hence analysing time trends should be done using the same classification method.
Why is there no data for the proportion of entrants from low participation neighbourhoods in Scotland?
The relatively high (in UK terms) participation rate in Scotland coupled with the very high proportion of HE that occurs in further education colleges means that the figures for Scottish HE providers could, when viewed in isolation, misrepresent their contribution to widening participation. Therefore, low participation data has not been produced for HE providers in Scotland. More information is provided here.
How are the OU students dealt with?
Prior to 2014/15, all OU entrants were considered to be in England, where the university has its administrative centre. However, since 2014/15, entrants have been allocated to the country where their national centre is located.
DSA data for the OU has been excluded for the academic years 2007/08 and 2008/09, due to changes introduced by HESA to the method of apportioning full-time equivalent between years which has affected the count of OU part-time students. In 2014/15, the OU under-reported the number of students in receipt of DSA in England and Wales. See here for further details.
Where can I find information on any merger or changes to HE providers?
These can be found here.
Are there any additional notes on the Performance Indicators to accompany this publication?
For more information relating to the Performance Indicators, please click here.
HESA cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived from the data by third parties.
Press enquiries should be directed to the Press Office at HESA, 95 Promenade, Cheltenham, GL50 1HZ, +44 (0)1242 211120, [email protected]. General enquiries about the data contained within this release should be addressed to the UKPI team, HESA (at the same address), +44 (0)1242 211115, [email protected].