One of the joys of working in an organisation that is public sector (actually that’s a definitional can of worms that I’m not going to open in this post) is that plenty of data exists which is publicly available for anyone to read, both about the sector, and about individual institutions. Even without creating your own detailed reports, a quick view of the sector can be gained from the statistics that appear on the front page of the HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) website and in their iPhone app (yes, really!). a simple cut and paste into Excel and we can produce some simple headlines and compare individual institutions to either the overall sector to to a range of comparators or competitors.
Anyway, the most recent student and staff records have been added for the 2012-13 academic year, and we could use these to identify how we compare, and with a little bit of work, how we might perform in the next round of league tables.
Over the last 5 years we’ve seen dramatic changes to the funding of HE, the shift in burden of fees and loans to the individual rather than the state, and changes to visas for overseas students.
The overall population has changed as follows:
showing a slight dip in the last year, although UCAS data would imply this may rise this year.
For us we see a decline in numbers overall:
Looking in more detail at the undergraduate population for the sector as a whole:
We see that full tine numbers have an overall upward trend, but as has been highlighted many times by the sector’s mission groups, part time numbers are decreasing, and the policies for funding part time students have not been updated or considered to the same degree as those for full time students. There is untapped human potential here – and untapped markets for the universities that can get the right kind of part time offer.
For us the picture is not dissimilar, although we had previously significant growth in part time which was not replicated across the sector
If we look at the staffing in higher education, across the sector the main change is the decrease in the number of non academic roles compared to academic. The overall number of academic posts has grown, with little change in number of part time roles.
Looking at our own institution, we see a similar trend in the balance of academic and non academic roles, but a noticeable difference in the balance between part time and full time academic posts.
In conclusion, we can get an overview of any institution from this very publicly available data. To make more sense of it, and to go behind the headlines and reach a deeper meaning involves looking at what sits beyond the front page of the HESA website.
Those of us with HEIDI accounts can easily start to look in detail at all sorts of things – how subject areas are growing or declining compared with other universities or the sector as a whole; how well students achieve in different institutions; how well subject areas in individual institution compare in recruiting students locally, nationally or internationally.
I’m already linking this kind of information to very detailed internal portfolio performance data (which would only be available internal to an organisation since it contains materials protected under the Data Protection Act) for one of our faculties to develop some sophisticated pointers of how to develop their academic award portfolio.