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Collaborative provision consultation and outcomes

HESA outcomes from consultation on COLPROV and summary of changes

This communication follows an open consultation on the recording of collaborative doctoral provision. It indicates the nature of the responses we received and the next steps we will take for inclusion in the Student record.

The COLPROV field was originally specified for the C14051 Student record as a required field to capture cases 'where the student has a funded (or partially funded) place as part of a Doctoral Training Partnership or Centre for Doctoral Training at the provider'. Following concerns raised by HE providers regarding their implementation of this field, it was made optional for C14051, and HESA led a working group to investigate and propose amendments, in time for the C15051 Student record. This group, comprised of staff from HE providers, Funding Councils, RCUK and HESA met once to discuss the issues with providing information for the COLPROV and related fields and to consider what information could realistically be collected. These discussions led to the development of a model for recording collaborative provision, which we consulted on, see Student circular 15/09. The feedback to this consultation helped to finalise the changes to the COLPROV and related fields which are summarised in this document. Respondents are thanked for their feedback.

At the core of the new model is a revised purpose: to capture all cases where there is a formal collaborative arrangement to provide doctoral research training for a student or students. This could include anything from a large Doctoral Training Partnership or Centre for Doctoral Training, to a student on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, or a co-tutelle du thèse or other joint supervision agreement for a single student.

We have identified two scenarios which could include formal joint supervision:

1) Concurrent collaboration or joint supervision

This is where a student is being supervised by supervisors at more than one provider during the same academic session. Only one provider should be returning the student's data.

2) Sequential collaboration

This is where a student starts with one provider, and then moves to a different provider to continue their studies. For example these could be students who study for a one-year MRes followed by three-year PhD, or those who join a collaborative PhD programme where the lead university is not determined until after year one.

Each of these collaborative provision scenarios requires a different approach to reporting in the HESA Student record.

Overall, the consultation on reporting collaborative doctoral provision confirmed the general approach we proposed as being achievable, however a number of specific issues were raised that will require consideration and guidance. This circular therefore summarises the responses we received in the consultation, the feedback we received from the Funding Councils, and the changes that will be required to the 2015/16 Student record.

Concurrent collaboration

Examples 1-3, which were around concurrent collaboration or joint supervision, were generally accepted by the sector. A few queries were raised around the potential impact on research postgraduate funding, and how situations where the majority of supervision is taking place elsewhere should be managed. Funding Councils have noted that they want to be able to better reflect quality profiles in funding formulas, and/or to use better data to more effectively recognise the contributions of partners.

In Scotland, the SFC has indicated the split of supervision will be used to inform the funding for institutions.

HEFCE, DEL and HEFCW have not indicated any intention to change the body to which funding is allocated.

In England, HEFCE have indicated that they will take the quality profile at other providers (where they were eligible to participate in the REF) into account, however they will continue to allocate all funding to the returning provider. HEFCE intends to apportion the PGR FTE attributed to industrial (and overseas) partners to the reporting and collaborating providers in proportion to their share of the FTE for that student instance in that reporting year.

In Wales, HEFCW will continue to allocate all funding to the returning provider but will consider the quality profile of the other providers. In analysing these data, HEFCW intends to apportion the PGR FTE attributed to industrial (and overseas) partners to the reporting and collaborating providers in proportion to their share of the FTE for that student instance in that reporting year.

In Northern Ireland, DEL has indicated that it will continue to allocate all funding to the returning provider. DEL intends to apportion the PGR FTE attributed to industrial (and overseas) partners to the reporting and collaborating providers in proportion to their share of the FTE for that student instance in that reporting year.

Regarding reporting Units of Assessment (UoAs) for industry or overseas HE partners; the sector expressed no clear overall preference about whether it would be preferable to return an approximate UoA, or to return no UoA at all. (A slightly higher preference was expressed for the latter option.) Questions were asked about the impact of funding when no UoAs are reported. Funding Councils have confirmed that they do not need UoAs for overseas partners and therefore providers will not need to return this data.

Some providers indicated that they have difficulty getting hold of UoAs for partners. Therefore complete data will be difficult to obtain. However Funding Councils do need this data, so it will remain a requirement.

Questions were raised about whether or not partnerships with HE providers overseas should be included and we believe it is appropriate to report these types of arrangements in the same fields. These fields (COLPROV and percentage) can also include any collaborations with partners in industry, whether they are overseas or not.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, HEFCE, HEFCW and DEL has noted that overseas partnerships should be treated like partnerships with UK industry, and the normal FUNDCODE rules will continue to apply.

In Scotland, the SFC has indicated that reporting institutions will continue to receive the funding associated with the supervision carried out by overseas partnerships and industrial placements.

Sequential collaboration

Most providers agreed that the proposed model would be the most practical way to record data where the nature of the partners' responsibilities tends to be sequential in nature, and where the initial qualification aim was for a doctorate, rather than an intermediate qualification (in such cases the whole study should be considered as a single Instance which may be split across multiple providers). It should be noted that the use of the proposed sequential method is optional, as it permits a transfer of control to pass between institutions for a single student instance. Where this method does not suit working practices or educational structures, the concurrent approach can be used, with the registering institution continuing to co-ordinate records across the partnership. On the other hand, if the qualification aims at the different partners are clearly separate (say, in level and in time), then 'normal' rules apply and the data could be returned as two separate instances. In England HEFCE have been clear that where a student joins a doctoral training centre or other formal collaborative research programme with the initial qualification aim of a research doctoral award this should be treated as a single instance even though the student may obtain a masters award as part of the programme; where a place on a research doctoral programme is guaranteed subject to satisfactory completion of an MRes or similar qualification this should be treated as a single instance.

Generally examples 4-7, which were around sequential collaboration, were accepted by the sector though more queries were raised. There were practical concerns about passing data between providers where, say, doctoral training centre management was not closely linked to the provider's data management professionals. Additionally, some providers were concerned about the possible requirement to amend data sharing agreements that have already been signed-off. A number of detailed questions were raised about how to return other data items, which will be addressed in the guidance.

Many providers indicated that they do give interim awards to a student after they have finished studying, and when the student might appear dormant in the Student record (in example 4). This scenario will fit with our data model and given the frequency of this happening we will include this in the guidance examples.

Several providers indicated that they would have problems around example 7 in the consultation, where a student suspends their studies after leaving the first institution but before starting at the second institution. The second provider would not physically see the student and therefore will not always have sufficient data and authority from the student to allow them to make a HESA return for the student. One provider suggested the student remains dormant at the first provider, until they start at the second provider. We regard this as being the best solution, and we will clarify the process in our guidance.

Providers have indicated that picking up NUMHUS from a previous provider would be moderately burdensome, therefore a preference was shown to submit the previous NUMHUS in a different field. Those who wish to retain the same NUMHUS could also do that with this model.

There were mixed comments about whether recording 1+3 year programmes as one or separate programmes were preferred. While there was a narrow preference in favour of a UK-wide common approach, the final approach was not agreed by all Funding Councils. Therefore, there will be variation between the different UK administrations.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, HEFCE, HEFCW and DEL has indicated that where the initial qualification aim is not attained at the first provider, and a transfer to another provider takes place, that this is a single instance. In such cases the sequential approach to recording data offers the opportunity for some partnerships to 'transfer control' of a student instance within the partnership. This is optional, and the concurrent approach may also be used, with a single partner continuing to return data on behalf of the partnership, once transfers have occurred.

In Scotland, the SFC will accept that a student with an overall qualification aim of a doctorate may have separate instances at each provider at which they are registered, for example studying for an MRes at one institution and for a doctorate at another institution.

Where there is a cross-border-flow of students to an administration with differing rules, the rule of the relevant Funding Council applies, unless there is a separate contractual requirement/condition of grant.

Sequential collaborative provision may only be recorded between providers where the student remains within coverage of the HESA Student record. Where a student transfers to a provider outside of the constituency for the HESA Student record, the concurrent approach must be used.

Providers held a variety of opinions regarding whether or not reporting collaborations in this way would risk affecting existing arrangements. However, concerns related mainly to financial and funding issues, and not specifically to the transfer of data. (Providers indicated that they had data-sharing agreements in place where they needed them.) Providers are advised to consider whether changes to data-sharing agreements will be necessitated by this change, and make adjustments accordingly.

Collaborative provision graph

Most providers therefore agreed that the proposed model would be a practical way to record data where the nature of the partners' responsibilities tends to be sequential in nature, and where the initial qualification aim was for a doctorate, rather than an intermediate qualification. Some commented that supervision is only part of the picture and that the funding split may be different to the supervision split. This is understood by the Funding Councils, which, in the case of concurrent collaborative provision, are using supervision split as a proxy for total effort, to avoid further, more burdensome data collection.

Because the consultation revealed concerns that funding decisions taken on the basis of these data might undermine existing agreements between partners, Funding Councils have provided the following clarifications:

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, HEFCE, HEFCW and DEL has specified that for sequential collaboration they will allocate funding to the reporting provider(s) in any given year. For concurrent collaboration they will allocate all funding to the reporting provider, but providers are free to split the funding however they wish, this change will simply affect how HEFCE, HEFCW and DEL calculates the funding.

In Scotland, the SFC has specified that for sequential collaboration they will allocate funding to the reporting provider in any given year. For concurrent collaboration funding will be allocated to institutions according to the split of supervision. Providers remain free to agree amongst themselves how the funding will be split.

Impacts on the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey

Where a sequential collaborative provision within a single instance results in an interim award at one provider, and where the RSNEND indicates a transfer within a collaborative provision, that student will be excluded from the DLHE survey population for that interim award at that provider.

Effort and burden

Providers indicated that the effort involved in making these changes would be fairly high whereas the benefits of making these changes for providers would be moderately low. Funding Councils will, however, be able to reflect the quality of departments providing supervision more accurately in their funding models and/or allow the contribution of all partners in collaborative provision to be fully recognised. This can be expected to have a material impact on PGR figures for some providers, which could potentially impact future publications and REF submissions.

Collaborative provision graph

Concurrent collaboration – changes to C15051

The lead provider should return the UKPRN for all the other providers involved in the partnership in the REFData.COLPROV field, along with the associated values in the REFData.UOA2014 and REFData.UOAPCNT fields.

The REFData.UOAPCNT field will be used to record the percentage of supervision provided by each provider.

The REFData.UOA2014 field will not be required for industrial or overseas partners.

Sequential collaboration – changes to C15051

New field "UKPRN to", new field "Transfer to date", and a new valid entry in Instance.RSNEND "Transferred out as part of collaborative supervision arrangements". These are for the first provider to use to pass reporting responsibility on to another provider after their own involvement ceases.

New field "UKPRN from", new field "Transfer from date", and a new field "Previous NUMHUS". These fields are for the second provider to indicate where the student has come from and therefore indicate who they are taking over the responsibility of reporting them from.

Some new reporting will be implemented to allow providers to identify and check which students have transferred to and from them.

Changes will be made to some validation rules to accommodate sequential collaboration concerning a single student instance, to allow for these 'transfers of control' to take place.

Guidance will be updated in current fields, to reflect these changes.

For full details of the proposals, please refer to the original Consultation on collaborative doctoral provision.

Consultation on reporting collaborative doctoral provision

Following our communications in April regarding the COLPROV field (confirming that this field will be optional for 2014/15) a working group has met at HESA to look at resolving the issues providers raised around returning data for this field. The working group comprised staff from HE providers, Funding Councils, RCUK and HESA, and aimed to discuss and resolve issues in reporting collaborative doctoral education data.

A short consultation has been drawn together to explain the proposals that this group and HESA have come up with, to give the sector the opportunity to feedback on this before it is implemented in the record. The consultation and survey is available here: Also, there is a copy of this consultation available in Word if you require this: Consultation on collaborative doctoral provision

This consultation explains the two types of 'collaborative provision' that the group identified: concurrent or joint supervision, and sequential collaboration. It also asks a number of questions around how providers would prefer to return certain data items.

We appreciate that this does not give you a lot of time to respond, but please could we receive all feedback by Wednesday 22 July, in order to give sufficient notice for implementation. Please note: we have also shared this communication with software providers.

If you have any queries please contact the Institutional Liaison team on 01242 211144 or email [email protected].