Key performance measure 8
KPM 8 measures the proportion of subjects taught and the number of higher education providers (relative to population) in each English region. This data is shown separately for full-time, part-time and apprenticeship students.
One of our strategic goals is that prospective students can choose from a diverse range of courses and providers at any stage of their life, with a wide range of flexible and innovative opportunities.
If our interventions to meet this goal are having the desired effect, we anticipate that in regions where providers seek to address unmet demand, the proportion of subjects taught, and the number of providers (relative to the size of the population in the region), shown by KPM 8, will increase.
KPM 8 shows, for each English region, the proportion of subjects taught in that region, and the number of providers per 100,000 residents aged 18 and above in that region. These measures are plotted on the x and y axes respectively and displayed for full-time, part-time and apprenticeships separately. KPM 8 also shows how the data has changed over time.
Occasionally the shaded circles in the charts above, representing different English regions, overlap with one another. The underlying data can be downloaded below (see ‘Download the data’).
Full-time students are taught in a much broader range of subjects than part-time students or apprentices. In some regions, full-time higher education is delivered in a broad range of subjects across a high number of providers. For example, in London in 2021-22, 90.2 per cent of subjects were taught, with 2.5 providers per 100,000 residents. In other regions, for full-time higher education, there are fewer subjects taught and fewer providers relative to the population living there. For example, in the East of England in 2021-22, 84.7 per cent of subjects were taught, with 0.8 providers per 100,000 residents.
For part-time higher education, providers in London again teach the broadest range of subjects – 63.2 per cent in 2021-22. However, at 0.8 providers per 100,000 residents in 2021-22, London has relatively few providers teaching part-time courses compared with some other English regions. Conversely, the North East has the lowest proportion of subjects (33.1 per cent in 2021-22), but has one of the highest number of providers relative to population delivering part-time higher education (0.9 per 100,000 residents).
The proportion of higher education subjects taught to apprentices has increased in recent years. In 2015-16, providers in the North West taught the widest range of subjects to apprentices, at 14.2 per cent. By 2021-22 it had been overtaken by the South East, which offered the widest range of subjects to apprentices, at 30.1 per cent. In 2021-22, the North East had one of the greatest number of providers relative to the population delivering higher education apprenticeships, with 0.8 providers per 100,000 residents. However, this region offered the lowest proportion of subjects of all regions, at 22.1 per cent. Across most years analysed, London has had the fewest providers relative to the population delivering higher education apprenticeships; in 2021-22, alongside the South East, it had the second lowest number of providers relative to the population, with 0.5 providers delivering higher education apprenticeships per 100,00 residents.
Lack of diversity of subjects and providers within a region could indicate a lack of choice for prospective students. Alternatively, a lack of subject or provider diversity could reflect the choices of students in that region. Students may want to study a narrower range of subjects, perhaps because they align with the jobs available in a region, or they may be satisfied with selecting from fewer providers if these offer a sufficiently high quality education. This means KPM 8 is a proxy measure of choice rather than a direct measure.
KPM 8 uses individualised student data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) Student Record, the HESA Student Alternative record, and the Individualised Learner Record from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). It is based on undergraduate entrants domiciled in the UK studying at higher education providers in England. Students on distance learning courses are excluded as this provision is not constrained by location.
Up to and including the 2020-21 academic year, only providers that were registered with the OfS at some point between 1 August 2020 and 31 July 2021 are included. For 2021-22, we include providers on the Register at some point between 1 August 2021 and 31 July 2022. This means the number of providers included in each year will vary. Provider counts are then calculated using the provider where a student is taught for the majority of the academic year.
This approach differs to the provider counts used in the other KPMs which include all higher education providers before 2020-21. By restricting the provider count to only those providers registered with the OfS at some point between 1 August 2020 and 31 July 2021, this approach avoids a large discontinuity in 2020-21 that would otherwise be caused by filtering out a large number of unregistered providers. This would particularly affect the apprenticeship and part-time measures.
The proportion of the subjects taught is based on the third tier of the Common Aggregation Hierarchy (CAH3), a standardised grouping of more detailed subject categories. To avoid confusion, CAH3 subject groupings are referred to as ‘subjects’ on this page. The proportion is calculated by dividing the number of CAH3 subject groupings taught in a given year, region and mode, by the number of CAH3 subject groupings taught across all modes and regions in a given year. Although there are 167 subject codes defined by CAH3, only a maximum of 163 of these were taught in any given year across all modes and regions in the period reported.
English regions are defined as the International Territorial Level 1 (ITL 1) region where a student is being taught (using the field IPLOCPOSTCODE, defined in our published technical algorithms for student outcome and experience measures).
The way subjects are coded changed between 2018-19 and 2019-20. The CAH provides standard groupings that can be applied to both the old and new coding systems. However, the change caused some variation in the distribution of subjects, which should be considered when comparing data before and after the change.
Subjects are included if they were taught to any number of non-distance learning UK-domiciled undergraduate entrants in a given year, region and mode. Similarly, providers are included if they taught any number of these students in a given year, region and mode. As neither measure considers the number of students taught, the data may be sensitive to changes in the number of small providers or infrequently offered subjects.
We use mid-year population estimates for those aged 18 and above in each English International Territorial Level 1 (ITL 1) region, taken from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates of the population for the UK, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. These figures are used to calculate the number of providers relative to population for all years in the period analysed. We consider this is a more representative estimate of the potential student population than our previous approach of using Census 2021 estimates of the usual resident population aged 15-64 by region, since there is no upper age limit for tuition fee loans and use of mid-year population estimates allows the population estimate to vary by year.
We have not restricted the potential student population further by using census estimates of the non-graduate population by region because:
- KPM 8 is a measure of student choice. It is aligned with our strategic goal that prospective students can choose from a diverse range of courses and providers at any stage of their life, with a wide range of flexible and innovative opportunities. Even those already holding higher education qualifications may themselves be prospective students, so we have decided to keep these individuals in the population estimates.
- The ONS Census 2021 highest level of qualification dataset, which we would use to estimate the non-graduate population by region, is not updated between census dates. Those years furthest removed from 2021 are therefore likely to be less accurate.
- The highest level of qualification dataset classifies usual residents aged 16 years and over in England and Wales by their highest level of qualification. This does not match the population aged 18 and above that we use in our population estimate.
KPM 8 is an experimental official statistic. We are seeking feedback for this measure (see ‘Contact us’ below).
If you have any queries, feedback or suggestions about KPM 8, please contact Mark Gittoes at [email protected].
Last updated 23 March 2023 + show all updates
23 March 2023
- Update to include 2021-22 data.
04 November 2022
- Minor change to provider and subject counts to correct a small processing error.
03 November 2022
- Data published
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