The Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) will stop publishing its annual key performance indicators as it adapts its approach to the diverging devolved nature of the UK sector.
The UK Performance Indicators (UKPIs) are official statistics that Hesa began collecting over 20 years ago before devolution for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland was agreed.
Director of data and innovation Jonathon Waller announced that Hesa would discontinue UKPIs from 2023, migrating some into its official statistics and dropping others altogether, such as the still-in-development Graduates Outcome dataset.
Said Waller: “In our view, fundamental changes in HE policy and regulation make it vital to undertake a similarly fundamental review of the role and purpose of a statistical product such as the UKPIs.”
Divergence across the UK has brought “significant difficulties in reaching consensus on UK-wide definitions and deployment”, he continued.
Waller said this fragmentation meant “proposed new indicators never achieving approval for launch”, rendering statistics covering area-based participation (POLAR), state-educated and disabled student’s
“less relevant” or “less valuable”.
Different regulatory and funding bodies covering England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland produce research and analysis that collect duplicate statistics to Hesa but use different definitions and produce contrasting figures. “This has the potential to cause confusion amongst users of HE statistics and is a threat to the coherence of data,” Waller concluded.
He suggested the UKPIs were static in a moving sector, which comprises many more new, diverse higher education providers than the figures were designed to cover or measure.