UK Performance Indicators Index
UK Performance Indicators in higher education
Governance of UK Performance Indicators
Guide to UKPIs
Summary tables and charts
Notes to tables
Definitions of terms
Changes to the UKPIs
Widening participation of under-represented groups (tables T1, T2)
Widening participation of students who are in receipt of DSA (table T7)
Non-continuation rates (including projected outcomes) (tables T3, T4, T5)
Non-continuation rates - technical details (tables T3)
Projected outcomes - technical details (tables T5)
Module completion rates (table T6)
Research output (table R1)
Employment of leavers (table E1)

Over the years, there have been a number of changes to the fields used to produce the UK Performance Indicators. This page summarises these changes.

Changes have occurred to the following fields:

UK Performance Indicators

At the Performance Indicators Steering Group (PISG) held on 16 September 2013, it was agreed that, henceforth, the Performance Indicators (PIs) would be referred to as the UK Performance Indicators for Higher Education, or the UKPIs. The groups governing these measures would be renamed accordingly, as the UK Performance Indicators Steering Group (UKPISG) and the UK Performance Indicators Technical Group (UKPITG), more details in UKPISG minutes

From the 2012/13 publication, all tables and charts have been modified to include UK domiciled in the title. This is not a change to the population, but has been included to clarify that data within the UKPIs is restricted to those students who were living in the UK prior to entering higher education.

Subject area (2002/03, 2004/05, 2007/08, 2012/13)

Since HESA took over the publication of the UK Performance Indicators, there have been four main changes to the subject groups used in the benchmark calculations. These took place in 2002/03, 2004/05, 2007/08 and 2012/13.

In 2002/03 a new subject classification was introduced called the Joint Academic Coding System (JACS). This subject classification looks similar to that previously published but has been devised in a different way. Therefore subject data published from 2002/03 is not comparable to that previously published.

There was also a change to the subject area groups in 2004/05. The UK Performance Indicators Steering Group (UKPISG, formally PISG) agreed to use the standard HESA JACS subject groupings, but with medicine & dentistry grouped with veterinary science. Previously, the benchmarks used more aggregated JACS subject groups. This change had very little effect on the benchmarks.

From 2007/08 onwards, subject codes JACS2 have been used. There has been little change at subject area level, but the following subjects have moved to a different subject area:

"C230 Plant biotechnology Involves the molecular and microbial manipulation of plants" has moved from 3 Biological Sciences to "J710 Plant biotechnology (crops, trees, shrubs, etc.) Involves the molecular and microbial manipulation of plants" which falls within subject area 9 Engineering & Technology.

"C560 Biotechnology The molecular and microbial bio-organisms for processes such as fermentation and enzyme technology." has moved from 3 Biological Sciences to "J700 Biotechnology The use of biological processes or organisms for the production of materials and services. Biotechnology includes the use of techniques for the improvement of the characteristics of economically important plants and animals and for the development of micro-organisms to act on the environment" which falls within subject area 9 Engineering & Technology.

For 2012/13, a review of a selection of the existing subject areas of the JACS coding system resulted in the implementation of a revised 'JACS3' version of the coding frame. The JACS2 version it replaced had been in existence since 2007/08. The full listing of JACS3, including a mapping between JACS2 and JACS3, can be found at JACS3 and JACS2 are not directly comparable at any level other than subject area, although many codes have been retained in the newer coding frame.

From 2012/13, the JACS3 subject areas have been used within the widening participation benchmarks and will be used within the non-continuation benchmarks from 2013/14.

Entry qualification changes (2002/03, 2007/08-2012/13)

The introduction of the tariff score in the sector led to changes to the benchmark groupings from 2002/03. Most of the change was to the groupings of scores for A-levels and Scottish Highers, but in addition there was a new category for Baccalaureate (formerly included with up to 4 A-level points) and a category for students with both Vocational A-levels (VCE) and A-levels or Highers. The GNVQ level 3 category now contains students who have tariff scores just for VCE qualifications. The tariff score categories used were chosen so that as far as possible they are of equal size. These categories were used until a decision could be made on how to make use of the more detailed entry qualification data collected by HESA from 2007/08. More details on tariff data can be found in introduction of tariff.

As a result of the new HESA student record in 2007/08 and the availability of more detailed entry qualification data, the entry qualifications categories used in the production of the benchmarks were modified slightly (applicable to tables T1, T2, T3, T5, T7 and E1). For entrants from 2010/11 onwards, the coding frame for the highest qualification on entry (HESA field QUALENT3, previously QUALENT2) also changed. As a result, the entry qualification groups were redefined using the new coding frame and are not strictly comparable with those used previously, see definitions for more details.

The availability of richer qualification information from 2007/08 allowed analysis of entry qualification at a more detailed level, separating out those students with certain combinations of grades of A-levels and Highers, see definitions for more details. From 2008/09, these modified entry qualification groups were used in the widening participation benchmarks (T1, T2); from 2009/10, the same qualification groups were used in the non-continuation benchmarks (T3) and from 2012/13, the same qualification groups were used in the projected outcomes (T5), DSA (T7) and employment (E1) benchmarks, the latter used a grouped up version. These changes to the entry qualification groups have altered the benchmarks for some HE providers that have large proportions of students with high A-level and Highers grades.

The qualifications included within the tariff calculations have changed over time, for full details, please refer to the list of tariff bearing qualifications. For 2012/13, additional BTEC qualifications have been included within the tariff calculations, see student record guidance for more details.

Detailed information on the how the benchmarks groups have changed over time can be found within the definitions document.

Suppression of data (2011/12, 2012/13)

From 2011/12, percentages and indicators calculated on populations which contain less than 22.5 individuals have been suppressed and represented as a '..'. Prior to 2011/12, a suppression level of less than 20 individuals was used. This brings the suppression levels more in line with other publications such as UNISTATS.

From 2011/12, data within the employment indicators have been suppressed and represented as a blank cell where the response rate for a HE provider is less than 85 per cent of the target response rate (68.0% for table E1a, 59.5% for tables E1b-E1d). Data for these HE providers have been excluded from all indicator and benchmark calculations.

From 2012/13, where data for a HE provider has been suppressed, they have been removed from all totals and benchmark calculations, see PITG paper 13/01. Also from 2012/13, in the event that a HE provider's data contains more than 50 per cent unknown values within the benchmarking factors, the benchmark has been suppressed and represented as a blank cell. This data has, however, been retained and included in totals and benchmark calculations for the rest of the sector. See PITG paper 13/03 and PITG minutes, 28 February 2013.

DLHE record (2011/12)

In 2011/12, the questions on the Destinations of Leavers from HE (DLHE) questionnaire were modified and as a result, the concept of activity was redefined for use in HESA publications. It was agreed by the PITG and the PISG to use the standard HESA publication categories for the employment indicators from 2011/12 onwards. Also in 2011/12, the DLHE population was extended to include leavers with additional qualifications. The only undergraduate qualifications now excluded from the DLHE population are: Intercalated degrees; Awards for visiting students; Post-registration health and social care awards; Professional qualifications for serving schoolteachers and Awards of credit. See DLHE collection 2011/12 for more details.

For more information on the activities categories used within the employment indicators, see DLHE definitions and for more information on the changes to the DLHE questionnaire, see

Due to changes on the DLHE questionnaire and hence changes to the derivation of the activity categories, the employment indicator for 2011/12 onwards is not strictly comparable with the indicator prior to 2011/12.

Low participation indicator (Super Profiles / POLAR2 / POLAR3) (2005/06, 2007/08, 2011/12)

Following the recommendations of the UK Performance Indicators review, the UK Performance Indicators Steering Group (UKPISG, formally PISG) agreed that the postcode indicator should be replaced. From 2005/06 (T1a only) and 2006/07 (T1b-T1c), the existing Super Profiles low participation indicator was replaced with a new indicator based on the revised POLAR definitions of low participation areas, using the lowest quintile of wards as low participation. More details on the change in methodology can be found in changes to the postcode indicator.

From the 2011/12 publication onwards, the low participation data uses the updated POLAR3 classification, more information on the POLAR3 classification and the files used in the mapping can be found on the HEFCE website and in the definitions document. Although the POLAR3 low participation data is calculated in a similar way to the POLAR2 low participation data but using more up to date data, the two datasets are not strictly comparable. For time series purposes, the indicators for 2009/10 to 2011/12 have been produced using both POLAR2 and POLAR3 data.

From 2007/08 onwards, the low participation data has not been produced for HE providers in Scotland. The low participation POLAR2/POLAR3 measure used in Tables T1, T2 and T3b is based on a UK wide classification of areas into participation bands. The relatively high (in UK terms) participation rate in Scotland coupled with the very high proportion of HE that occurs in FE colleges means that the figures for Scottish HE providers could, when viewed in isolation, misrepresent their contribution to widening participation.

Population changes (2010/11)

In 2010/11, the standard UK Performance Indicators population was extended to include students on low credit bearing courses (instances with 10 percent FTE or less), regardless of whether or not a reduced return was submitted. Historically, the standard UK Performance Indicator population did not include students on low credit bearing courses as some of the key fields used to define the population were not required for these students and information submitted in these fields was not retained. From 2007/08, a reduced return was still acceptable for students on low credit bearing courses, but where data was returned, the information was retained.

Analysis of the 2009/10 data showed that over 90 percent of UK domiciled low credit bearing undergraduate students were already included within the UK Performance Indicators population. It was agreed by the UK Performance Indicators Technical Group (UKPITG, formally PITG) that the remaining low credit bearing UK domiciled undergraduate students would be included within the population from 2010/11. This change to the population brings the UK Performance Indicators population more in line with the HESA Session population. Since a large majority of low credit bearing students are mature, part-time other undergraduates, the main impact is on table T2b.

Due to changes in funding arrangements, the Scottish Agricultural College are now funded by the Scottish Funding Council and as a result are included in the UK Performance Indicators from 2010/11.

NS-SEC (applicable to table series T1a-T1c) (2002/03, 2008/09, 2009/10)

For the 2001 census, a new classification, National Statistics - Socio-Economic Classification (NS-SEC), was developed to replace Social Class. It took into account new work patterns in the UK and the changes in education levels required for and the status of, large numbers of occupations. This new classification was used for the social class PI from 2002/03 and called the SEC indicator. More details on the differences between SEC and social class can be found in changes between 2001/02 and 2002/03.

For the 2008/09 academic year, UCAS changed the question that informs NS-SEC for the majority of applicants. The question reverted back to the original wording for 2009/10 applicants.

For applicants up to and including the 2007/08 academic year and for the 2009/10 academic year, UCAS asked:

"If you are under 21, please give the occupation of your parent, step-parent or guardian who earns the most. If he or she is retired or unemployed, give their most recent occupation. If you are 21 or over, please give your own occupation."

For applicants for 2008/09 entry, the question changed to:

"If you are in full-time education, please state the occupation of the highest-earning family member of the household in which you live. If he or she is retired or unemployed, give their most recent occupation. If you are not in full-time education, please state just your own occupation."

The change in question between 2007/08 and 2008/09 had an impact on the NS-SEC indicators, causing the proportion of students classified as ‘unknown' and those classified as falling into NS-SEC groups 4 to 7 to rise. Given these differences and the lack of any significant external changes to the system, it is safe to conclude that the change in question means that the NS-SEC data for 2008/09 is not comparable with that published previously and as a result, the 2008/09 NS-SEC data was published separately in tables T1ai, T1bi and T1ci and labelled as age-adjusted NS-SEC.

Although the question reverted back in 2009/10, there may still be a slight impact on the NS-SEC indicators resulting from applicants who applied using the 2008/09 form, but deferred entry until 2009/10. However, the 2009/10 will be more comparable with that published up until 2007/08 than with the 2008/09 data. Therefore, NS-SEC time series data published within the summary excludes data for 2008/09.

Part-time mode of study (applicable to table T7) (2009/10)

From the 2009/10 edition, the definition of part-time mode of study was modified slightly:

Part-time mode of study includes students returned as having part-time mode of study and FTE (STULOAD) greater than 50 or, where a student instance spans HESA reporting years, the sum of FTE load A (LOADYRA) from the reporting year and FTE load B (LOADYRB) from the previous year is greater than 50. Previously only part-time students with FTE greater than 50 were included. The impact of this change is minimal for the majority of HE providers.

Extension of non-continuation indicators (T3e from 2008/09)

The non-continuation indicators (series T3) was been extended to cover part-time first degree students and was published as table T3e from 2008/09. The part-time non-continuation indicator differs from the current full-time indicators in that in looks at continuation in the two years following entry. It is further restricted to only include those students studying at least 30% of an FTE. Further, part-time students are not considered if they are found to be undertaking more than one course of HE at a HE provider in the year of entry or they have undertaken first degree study in the year prior to entry or they leave the programme of study within 50 days of commencement. For details, please refer to the technical document. The subject and entry qualification groups used in the part-time benchmarks differ slightly from those used in the full-time indicators. Please refer to the benchmarks document for full details.

Extension of employment indicators (E1a-E1d from 2008/09)

The coverage of the UK employment Performance Indicators was extended from 2008/09 to cover part-time first degree leavers plus full-time and part-time other undergraduate leavers. These were published alongside the data for full-time first degree leavers as tables E1a, E1b, E1c and E1d respectively.

For more detailed information on the how the benchmark subject groups have changed, please refer to the definitions document.



Press: Call 01242 211120 or email
General enquiries should be sent to
Enquiries regarding the UK Performance Indicators Steering Group (UKPISG) should be directed to the HEFCE Press Office on 0117 931 7363