UK performance indicators valued by the higher education sector

09 December 2013

A fundamental review of the UK Performance Indicators for higher education (UKPIs) has been published today.

The report, ‘How should we measure Higher Education? A fundamental review of the Performance Indicators’ (Note 1), was commissioned by the UK Performance Indicators Steering Group (UKPISG). It shows that UKPIs are valued as a way to measure the nature and performance of higher education in the UK, and concludes that the current approach to UKPIs is appropriate and should be retained. 

It also recommends several areas for further exploration with the higher education sector, including: 

  • refining the current set of performance indicators
  • broadening the populations and institutions covered by UKPIs to take account of the changing make-up of HE provision and of the HE sector
  • introducing a small number of additional UKPIs to take account of the wider role of higher education. 

HEFCE, on behalf of UKPISG, is inviting comment from providers of higher education in England on the first areas of work UKPISG is taking forward, based on the recommendations in the review. Comments from other HE organisations are also being sought. 

Other indicators within the current set of UKPIs will be subject to an in-depth rolling review process. This will include reviewing the current indicators relating to:

  • widening participation of under-represented groups and of students in receipt of Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)
  • non-continuation rates, including projected outcomes
  • employment of leavers.

Exploratory work into new areas for additional UKPIs will begin once the in-depth reviews of the existing UKPIs have been completed. 

Heather Fry, HEFCE Director (Education and Participation) and Chair of UKPISG, said:

‘We welcome the findings of this review which acknowledge the credible, legitimate and independent role of performance indicators in measuring the performance of the UK higher education sector and of individual HE providers.

‘We are keen to receive feedback from institutions on the preliminary actions proposed by UKPISG which aim to refine and further strengthen these important measures. However, we recognise that full implementation of the proposed changes will take time, and the UKPISG has committed to engaging in dialogue with the higher education sector as change is taken forward in the coming years.’

The review was commissioned by the UKPISG in early 2013 in the context of significant changes in the HE sector, and differing policies between the UK nations. It looked at the rationale, purpose and policy drivers of the UKPIs; the usage and the users of the UKPIs; and whether the existing UKPIs were still fit for purpose. A wide range of interested bodies and organisations were consulted through a series of stakeholder interviews and events.

UK performance indicators provide information on the nature and performance of the HE sector in the UK.
They currently cover the following data:

  • widening participation indicators
  • non-continuation rates (including projected outcomes)
  • module completion rates
  • research output
  • employment of graduates


  1. The report was written by the National Centre for Social and Economic Research (NatCen) and the Institute for Employment Studies.

Page last updated 9 December 2013

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