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Executive summary


1. This report outlines the primary research conducted and evidence considered to inform proposals for the future direction of the Key Information Set and Unistats. It summarises the key findings from the research and includes individual research reports as annexes.

Key points

2. The report presents findings from research conducted by the UK higher education funding bodies and, for ease of reference, includes key findings from research they have commissioned for the review, such as that carried out by CFE Research on information use by prospective students and their advisers. It also draws on evidence collected through interactions with stakeholders and users of the Unistats website.

3. The findings from our research indicate that, since our last research in this area in 2010, there have been some changes in the types of information of interest to prospective students and their advisers, and in the sources of information that they use. In particular, we have noted that priorities for information and patterns of information use are different for different student groups, but all have an interest in detailed information about courses and first-hand accounts from current students. Some elements of the Key Information Set require significant effort to provide, yet are not always a robust basis for decision-making. For example, many institutions reported that they found producing data about scheduled learning and teaching in the format required for the Key Information Set time-consuming and complex, yet both their feedback and our data audits suggest that this does not always provide a good representation of a student’s likely experience. This is primarily because it can be difficult to reflect flexible provision within the current approach. We also found limited evidence of reuse of the Unistats dataset by other providers of information for students.

Action required

4. No action is required.

Date: 8 October 2015

Ref: HEFCE 2015/27

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges, Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions, Heads of universities in Northern Ireland
Heads of higher education institutions in Scotland; Heads of higher education institutions in Wales; Heads of further education colleges in Wales; Heads of alternative providers in England; Heads of student unions and guilds at UK institutions; Employer bodies; Professional, statutory and regulatory bodies; Other bodies with an interest in information about higher education; Careers advisers; Schools, sixth form colleges and their representative bodies; Other bodies and individuals involved in supplying advice and guidance to prospective higher education students

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Student information; Planning; Quality assurance; Admissions; Widening participation and marketing; Liaison with schools and colleges

Enquiries should be directed to:

Catherine Cameron, tel 0117 931 7476, email