Key Information Sets

Key Information Sets are comparable sets of standardised information about undergraduate courses. They are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students and will be published 'in context' on the web-sites of universities and colleges.

As part of our wider work with partner organisations in response to the increasing importance of information about higher education, universities and colleges will be expected to publish these information sets on their web-sites from September 2012.

About the KIS

The KIS will contain areas of information that students have identified as useful. These areas are:

  • student satisfaction
  • course information
  • employment and salary data
  • accommodation costs
  • financial information, such as fees
  • students' union information.

There will be a KIS for all undergraduate courses (including part-time) planned for 2013-14, on which students at HEIs are registered, or which are run through private providers who subscribe to the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. Undergraduate programmes taught through further education colleges will also require a KIS.

The only exceptions are short courses (one year full-time equivalent or less), postgraduate courses, those delivered wholly overseas, and closed courses.

Mock-up of the KIS

[ Download Mock-up of the KIS as Adobe PDF 432K | Download Mock-up of the KIS as MS Word 1.3Mb ]

Details of the KIS were developed following a programme of research and development.

Sourcing the information

We do not expect the KIS to replace other information sources, or to be presented in isolation - we would expect them to include links to more detailed information on the institution's own web-site. The KIS is not intended to be a contractual document, but rather indicative.

Much of the information needed for the KIS already exists in a national and comparable form. But those areas of information that do not exist will need to be submitted by institutions. We have identified these items in a document on next steps for the KIS. We have also published a timeline for universities and colleges to submit their data.

In summary, the sources of information will be:

  • HEFCE: NSS for course satisfaction (including the new question on students' union)
  • HESA: DLHE for employability
  • institutions: course information, accommodation
  • to be confirmed: fees and/or bursaries and scholarships.

We will collate this information and create the KISs in the first year, but expect the Higher Education Statistics Agency to take over this role in the following years.

Full list of information items and their sources

[ Download Full list of information items and their sources as Adobe PDF 101K | Download Full list of information items and their sources as MS Word 38K ]

The KIS will be developed with a set of guidelines for users, explaining sources of information, appropriate interpretations and disclaimers, and any other relevant information.

The KIS technical guidance has now been published. For more information see 'Key Information Set: further information and request for feedback on technical guidance' (HEFCE Circular letter 23/2011).

Quality assurance

The quality assurance framework assesses the quality of teaching and the standard of rewards in HEIs. From 2012-13 this will cover the information that institutions publish, and will form part of the framework's institutional review.

Until that point the information that institutions publish will continue to be subject to a comment in institutional review.

The Quality in Higher Education Group (QHEG) has reviewed the outcomes of the QAA consultations on the Institutional Review method and the Academic Infrastructure, together with the consultation on changes to information published by institutions.

Following recommendations from the QAA, it has agreed that, from 2012-13:

  • The institutional Review will include the following judgement: the public information provided by the institution is commended / meets national expectations / requires improvement to meet national expectations / does not meet national expectations.
  • The focus of the new judgement will be on the completeness, currency, reliability and accessibility of the information provided by institutions and on the usefulness of the information to potential students, employers and the wider public. Reviewers will not be expected to make a judgement on the accuracy of the detailed information in the KIS.
  • The revised Institutional Review handbook will clarify how each of the grades will be determined. QHEG will consider a draft of the relevant sections of the handbook in December 2011, before its publication by the QAA in January 2012.
  • Expectations will be defined in a new section of the UK Quality Code for higher education relating to public information (Part C). The Code will also reference specific national requirements, (for example, the Key Information Set and Wider Information Set). It will also go beyond these, taking a 'student lifecycle' approach to the provision of information. The QAA expects to consult on Part C of the Quality Code in November-December 2011, before publishing it in March 2012.

Evaluation and review

Following the recommendations from both the Oakleigh and Institute of Education research we intend to conduct a review of the NSS and Unistats, and an evaluation of the KIS during the academic year 2014-15.

The KIS will also be reviewed regularly to ensure that it continues to fulfil users' needs, both in terms of content and delivery.

Further information

Louisa Baker at HEFCE
Tel 0117 9317106

Fiona Hoban at Universities UK
tel 020 7419 5484

Helen Bowles at GuildHE
tel 020 7387 7711

Last updated 4 October 2011