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HE-BCI major review

As announced in 2019 at the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) and PraxisAuril conferences, HESA launched a major review of the Higher Education – Business and Community Interaction collection (HE-BCI). Endorsed by the Office for Students and the four HE Funding Bodies, HESA has been awarded financial support from Research England, a part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), to continue the major review of the HE-BCI record to meet Government and UKRI policy priorities and fulfil its responsibility to periodically review datasets. The review will continue to develop the outcomes of the initial consulation of 2019 and interim roundtable sessions held in the summer of 2021.

Read the 'HE-BCI major review: where are we now?' blog

Read more about how we are re-igniting our review of HE-BCI

Review objectives

  • To undertake an investigation that meets the goal of specifying users’ needs for data on interactions between the HE sector, and the businesses and communities they work with, identifying output objectives, concepts of interest, and availability of data.
  • To run consultations and working groups aimed at understanding and confirming user needs.
  • To produce a business case for the design and build of new or improved data collection/ingestion instruments along with associated processing, analysis and dissemination plans (revised deadline of the end of the 2022/23 academic year).

The review will seek to expand on the priorities identified following the first phase of consultation taking into consideration the emerging landscape of HE Knowledge Exchange in a post-pandemic UK. The outcomes of this ongoing major review are intended to form a business case for change effective for the 2022/2023 HE-BCI collection, as well as identifying longer-range avenues for improvement.

Initial review timeline

The major review adheres to an 18-month project plan underpinned by five progressive milestones:

  1. February 2022: Synthesised previous consultation materials and established priorities for the review.
  2. April 2022: Developed statistical concepts; identified optimal/feasible approaches for addressing conceptual development.
  3. July 2022 onwards: programme of user engagement activities to identify user data requirements and outputs and further develop six priority areas:
  4. January 2023: Develop a draft proposal for future data collection.
  5. May 2023: Develop a response to consultation and outline proposals for changes to be designed and implemented for the 2022/3 collection year; identifying and prioritise further development work for HE-BCI collection beyond 2022/23.

HE-BCI Project Board

Conditions of the UKRI funding require the establishment of a Project Board to oversee this funded phase of the project

The purpose of the Project Board is to:

  • Allow HESA to demonstrate accountability to funders in the undertaking of the project phase.
  • Provide UKRI assurance of the efficacy and cadence of the project and to provide accountability for the use of public funds.
  • Oversee the progress of the review and ensure it is evolving in a timely manner commensurate with the agreed project milestones.
  • Provide policy input from key stakeholders in the project.

The Project Board consists of a Chair, HESA Secretariat and representatives from each home nation funding body:

  • Research England
  • Office for Students
  • Scottish Funding Council
  • Higher Education Funding Council Wales
  • Department for Economy Northern Ireland

Further details on engagement with users and suppliers of data in the HE sector and beyond will be published shortly. In the meantime if you have any feedback or queries, please contact [email protected].

Project priorities

To continue to be a data collection that adequately supports UK policy, facilitates transparent bench-marking and enhances academic research it the HE-BCI survey must be useful, robust, universal, verifiable and of proportionate burden to providers. 

The review will continue to address six priority areas. These areas represent a collated view of the concepts featured in the record, whether existing or to be introduced, and work will begin on addressing coverage, guidance and data metrics applicable to enhancing the demonstration of each.

In the following sections, we outline the areas where our detailed analysis of sources indicates the greatest value can be created. We will publish more detail about these in due course, and there will be a consultation later in the year once our proposals are fully developed.

1. Geographic granularity

Aim: Improving the reporting of KE interactions to show where they are happening at a local, regional, national and international level. This will include the disaggregation of current cumulative frequency counts, defined by their location.

Desired outcomes:

  • Allow for the monitoring of the extent of reach of provider knowledge exchange.
  • Support provider strategic commitments to addressing local socio-economic requirements.
  • Support initiatives to strengthen national capabilities, for example the Northern Ireland’s ambition to achieve a 10x Economy, the Connecting Capabilities and Strength in Places Funds.
  • Align HE-BCI to complementary data collections such as the Scottish Funding Council’s KE Metrics submission.

Proposals (in development):

  • Introduction of geographic disaggregation of collaborative partnerships data to identify those taking place across a local, regional, national and international scale.
2. Commercialisation

Aim: Improving the focus of KE-related commercial activity beyond exploitation of intellectual property (IP). Additionally, improve the monitoring of commercialisation over time to present better view of the impacts on society and wider communities. 

Desired outcomes:

  • Allow for assessment of the social value and wider contributions of IP exploitation in the form of company turnovers and job creation
  • A demonstration of the breadth, scale, and value of IP dissemination
  • Develop a greater understanding of the benefits of provider investment in spin-outs and start-ups

Proposals (in development):

  • Review of patent lifecycles and further work to identify provider co-authorship.
  • Consider implications of perpetual and open licenses.
  • Better understand spin-out lifecycles over the longer term and explore measures of longevity and cessation of spin-out status, by collecting company identifiers.
  • Considerations of provider ownership and cessation of provider input to continued knowledge transfer.
  • A proposed experimental data collection to investigate use of linked Intellectual Property Office (IPO) data.
  • Collection of patent application numbers from a sample of institutions.
  • Work alongside IPO to obtain datasets.
  • Exploration of analytical capabilities of returned datasets.
  • Further details to be announced.
3. Social and cultural interactions

Aim: Improving the record of impact and value of social and cultural interactions. Including focused reporting on social and cultural interactions with non-for-profit and third-sector organisations.

Desired outcomes:

  • Support providers' demonstration of a commitment to the civic mission – align to the requirements of similar funding priorities, for example Innovation and Engagement Funding and Industrial Challenges funding in Wales and 10x Economy in Northern Ireland.
  • Enhance the demonstration of the social and cultural value of provider KE interactions.
  • Demonstrate the diversity of communities providers strategically engage with.
  • Understand how provider KE interactions contribute to local and national policy-making.

Proposals (in development):

  • Expansion to a notion of civic engagement – including but not limited to social and cultural interactions.
  • Requirement to evidence public engagement in research.
  • Requirement to expand engagement to include partnerships with local authorities and third-sector organisations.
4. Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI)

Aim: Exploring the possible links between the HE-BCI data collection and existing HESA records to better understand the diversity of key agents of KE within providers.

Desired outcomes:

  • Improved understanding of E&D characteristics of Students and Staff as agents of knowledge exchange.

Proposals (in development):

  • Investigation of potential introduction of a KE-related variable within HESA Staff and Student/Student Alternative records to link existing E&D microdata to HE-BCI themes.
5. In-kind contributions to collaborative research and partnerships

Aim: Improve the recording of in-kind contributions to collaborative partnerships and providing enhanced guidance on how to assign values. Improving the focus given to the value and benefit of the contribution to the provider because of the partnership.

Desired outcomes:

  • Improved consistency in the reporting of in-kind contributions.
  • Enhancing HEP confidence in assigning value to in-kind contributions.
  • Improving the application of the record to a diversity of contribution types.
  • Support UK funders’ confidence in reported in-kind data.

Proposals (in development):

  • Broadening the coverage of in-kind contributions
  • Re-defining contributions as those believed to have a social or cultural value that otherwise could not be obtained outside of the collaborative partnership.
  • Suggested, but not prescriptive, methodology recommendations – i.e. market/sector value equivalent valuations, or costs to replicate contributions (intangible).
  • Support providers in confidently assigning monetary values to contributions and align requirements external data collections.
  • Encouragement to use standardised letters of support when establishing collaborations and partnerships.
  • Enhanced guidance on receipt of contributions split across multiple providers – account for differing levels of use of contribution.
6. Staff and students as agents of KE

Aim: Broadening the concepts of agents of KE and enhancing the representation of the diversity of those participating in KE within providers.

Desired outcomes:

  • Improved representation of the types of agents engaging in KE at providers.
  • Allow for the inclusion of KE interactions currently excluded from coverage due to those involved.
  • Allow providers to demonstrate their strategic commitment to supporting staff and students in engaging with KE – as demonstrated by the KE Concordat.

Proposals (in development):

  • Inclusion of student contributions – both paid and voluntary student engagement.
  • Widen the coverage of KE contributions to include a broader range of provider staff where currently limited to staff or contract type.

Reference documents

HESA’s project mandate provides the background and requirements for a major review to the collection:

HE-BCI major review project mandate (PDF)

Now available to download:

HE-BCI consultation phase one: summary of results