Experimental statistic

Key performance measure 5

Access to higher education

KPM 5 measures the number of young, full-time undergraduate students entering higher education, by differing levels of individual disadvantage.

Number of young, full-time, England-domiciled undergraduate entrants by disadvantage groups

One of our strategic goals is that students’ access, success and progression are not limited by their background, location or characteristics. This measure uses multiple data sources to place students into one of three groups:

  • significantly disadvantaged
  • economically precarious
  • other.

It is important for us to have a measure that is easily understood by the public and those inside the higher education sector, which shows the socioeconomic background of students entering higher education, and how this changes over time. This measure is based on individual level data from different stages of a student’s education and shows those from economically precarious contexts who may also face barriers to equality of opportunity, as well as those most disadvantaged.

If our approach to regulating student access and participation is working, we anticipate that the numbers of young, full-time undergraduate entrants, at degree level and below, across groups with differing levels of disadvantage, shown by KPM 5, will increase. We recognise that student demographics may play a part in any such changes.

KPM 5 shows that, in 2021-22, approximately 286,700 young, full-time, England-domiciled students (who could be linked to their school record in their GCSE year) entered undergraduate higher education in England, the highest total in the past five years. This included 49,600 students categorised as ‘significantly disadvantaged’. This number has decreased from 51,100 in the previous year.

KPM 5 uses individualised student data from:

  • the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) Student Record
  • the HESA Student Alternative Record
  • the Individualised Learner Record from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)
  • the Student Loans Company (SLC)
  • the National Pupil Database (NPD).

It is based on young (under 21), full-time undergraduate entrants, domiciled in England, for whom we were able to link to their NPD record for their GCSE year.

Before 2020-21, all higher education providers in England are included. For 2020-21 onwards we include only providers that were registered with the OfS at some point between 1 August and 31 July in each academic year. This means the number of providers included in each year will vary.

KPM 5 disaggregates individual students into one of three groups: significantly disadvantaged, economically precarious, or other. Further detail about the methodology used to calculate this measure, which is used in KPM 5 and KPM 6 is given in the following document.

Download information about our disadvantage measure

KPM 5 is an experimental official statistic. We are seeking feedback for this measure (see ‘Contact us’ below).

Contact us

If you have any queries, feedback or suggestions about KPM 5, please contact Annalise Ruck at [email protected].

Published 08 September 2022
Last updated 23 March 2023
23 March 2023
Update to include 2021-22 data.
03 November 2022
Data published

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