Key Information Sets

‌‌Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full or part time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information is published on the Unistats web-site. By 31 October, all institutions will make this information available via a small advert or widget on their course pages.

Prospective students can compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses on the Unistats web-site.

‌Aims of the policy

‌The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) forms part of our work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. It gives prospective students access to robust, reliable and comparable information in order to help them make informed decisions about what and where to study.

It contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

It’s also the first time this kind of data has been brought together in this way, providing information to students in a format that is useful to them, in the places they want to find it. 

In order to inform the development of KIS we have:

  • researched the information needs of prospective students
  • consulted the HE sector
  • carried out user testing to determine the most appropriate way of publishing the information
  • asked expert working groups to determine the definitions and categories of information included in the KIS
  • carried out pilots with eight universities

More information on the KIS research and development

What courses does it cover?

  • All full-time and part-time undergraduate courses planned for 2013-14 in institutions which subscribe to the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA).
  • Undergraduate programmes taught through further education colleges in England and Wales (this applies to colleges funded indirectly through a higher education institution and for courses HEFCE funds directly).

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


A toolkit of materials is available for teachers, careers advisers, and anyone involved in supporting prospective university students to decide what and where to study.

This contains information and communications resources to help raise awareness of the new Unistats web-site and the KIS.

Accessing the data

Anyone who wants to access the site’s data can do so in one of two ways:

Schema for KIS outputs (Updated 21 August 2012)

The document below is an 'XML' file intended for programmers who plan to use the Unistats data once it has been published in September. The file gives the framework or 'schema' for the site's data. We updated the schema on 21 August 2012 to add an additional element that reports the overall percentage of assessment that is by coursework. This item is included in the widget.

Download the Schema for KIS outputs as XML (99 KB)

Previous publications

What the KIS contains

The KIS contains 17 items.  Much of the KIS information already exists in a national and comparable form, but there are several items of information that do not currently exist in that form and are being supplied by universities and colleges (highlighted in the table below).

Information items for publication in the KIS

Source of this information

Level of this information

For the September 2012 KIS, information will relate to:


Results from the following NSS questions: 

  • Staff are good at explaining things
  • Staff have made the subject interesting
  • Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of my course
  • I have received sufficient advice and support with my studies
  • Feedback on my work has been prompt
  • Feedback on my work has helped me clarify things I did not understand
  • The library resources are good enough for my needs
  • I have been able to access general IT resources when I needed to

HEFCE to draw from the NSS

Course level or aggregated

2012 NSS results

Proportion of time spent in various learning and teaching activities – by year/stage of study, with a link to further detail

Institution to provide to HEFCE

Course level

Typical student path

Proportion  of summative assessment by method – by year/stage of study

Professional, statutory and regulatory bodies that recognise this course, details of the type of recognition with a link to further detail

Planned for academic year 2013-14

Costs and financial support

Institution owned/sponsored accommodation: average annual costs – upper and lower quartiles, and number of units (to which students can reasonably expect to have access) 

Private rental accommodation: average annual costs – upper and lower quartiles

Institution to provide to HEFCE

Institutional level

Academic year 2012-13

Financial support available from the institution: whether it offers a fee waiver; means-tested support; non means-tested support; National Scholarship Programme; and a link to more detailed information

Institution to provide to HEFCE, for courses that do not recruit through UCAS. For courses recruiting through UCAS data will be sourced from UCAS

Course level

Planned for academic year 2013-14

Average fees (excluding fee waivers) per year by country of UK domicile  

Institution to provide to HEFCE, for courses that do not recruit through UCAS. For courses recruiting through UCAS data will be sourced from UCAS

Course level

Planned for academic year 2013-14

Employment and salary information

The destinations of graduates six months after completing their course – comprising working, studying, working and studying, unemployed, and not available for work


HEFCE to draw six-month figures from the Destinations of Leavers from HE (DLHE) survey and 40-month figures from the Longitudinal DLHE survey

Course level or aggregated

2010-11 DLHE and 2010 Longitudinal DLHE results


Of those in employment, the proportion in managerial/professional jobs six months after graduation.

Salary data for those in full-time employment:

  • upper quartile, median and lower quartile six months after graduation from the course at the institution displaying the KIS
  • regionally adjusted upper quartile, median and lower quartile for the subject across all institutions six months after graduation
  • regionally adjusted upper quartile, median and lower quartile for the subject across all institutions at 40 months after graduation

Students’ union

Additional question to be added regarding satisfaction with the SU

HEFCE to draw from the NSS

Institutional level

2012 NSS results

‌Institutions’ web pages

To allow prospective students to discover the KIS in context, universities and colleges will embed a small advert or ‘widget’ into their course web pages from 31 October.

This highlights key information about that course and provides a direct link to the full list of key information on the Unistats web-site.

This is a graphic illustrating the widget but please note that the look and precise phrasing used on this example might change.

The widget displays up to ten areas of information on a ‘rolling’ basis. This covers:

  • Are staff good at explaining things?
  • Have staff made the subject more interesting?
  • Overall satisfaction
  • Percentage at work or study after six months
  • Professional accreditation
  • Satisfaction with the support and guidance
  • Percentage in professional and managerial roles after six months
  • Accommodation costs
  • Percentage of scheduled learning and teaching activities
  • Percentage of coursework

Actions for institutions

Widgets must be made available on institutions’ web-sites by 31 October 2012.

Further technical guidance for institutions is available on The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) web-site.  


We working with the other UK funding bodies, UUK, GuildHE and the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) to deliver the KIS.

We receive guidance from the Higher Education Public Information Steering Group (HEPISG) and their Sub-Group. 

The quality of the information

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) will consider the quality of the information as part of its broader commitment to ensure universities and colleges provide information for their intended audiences.

The QAA has set out the standards of academic quality it expects universities and colleges to deliver in the UK Quality Code. Part C of this code covers providing information about higher education programmes.

The QAA will review the quality of information in the KIS as part of its process of institutional review.

Evaluation and review 

An early evaluation will seek to determine the practical success of the Unistats/KIS in its early stages.  It will cover three distinct strands:

  • the user experience of the KIS widget, the KIS and the new Unistats website
  • the process from HE providers’ perspectives
  • a data audit. 

In the coming months, we will work with our UK funding partners and HEPISG members and observers to develop plans for a major review of the provision of information about HE. 

This will include the ten-year review of the NSS, including an analysis of the results over the period.  Using the student-lifecycle framework, the review is likely to comprise multiple strands, of which a review of Unistats and the KIS will form part. 

We will also work with HESA to ensure that appropriate consideration is given to the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education within the review.

The aim will be to ensure that:

  • there is a coherent framework within which the different elements of the provision of information reside
  • there is a sound evidence base for need
  • they are fit for purpose in terms of proportionality and technological developments. 

It will also provide an opportunity for reflection on the cost to the public purse, and the role of market providers in providing independent, contextualised and robust comparable information. 

The intention is also, where possible, to provide a framework which is consistent across the UK.

Page last updated 4 October 2012

Share this: