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Graduate earnings data & Teaching Excellence

January 11, 2016

Happy 2016!

English HE is once again preparing for the possibility of imminent primary legislation, though voices in the sector are worried that, as in 2012, a planned Bill may fail to appear. Oliver Letwin is one in Cabinet who is championing the advantages of the low-key, piecemeal approach we saw between 2011 and 2015.  (I have previously characterised this manner of avoiding scrutiny as contributing to a ‘democratic deficit’.)

Many of the measures outlined in the Autumn’s Green Paper can be effected without primary legislation. The major aspects of the proposed Teaching Excellence Framework included.

Jo Johnson favours moving towards the TEF using three initial metrics:

After informal discussions with the sector, we believe at present there are three common metrics (suitably benchmarked) that would best inform TEF judgements. We propose initially to base the common metrics on existing data collections:

  1. Employment/destination – from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Surveys (outcomes), and, from early 2017, make use of the results of the HMRC data match.

  2. Retention/continuation – from the UK Performance Indicators which are published by Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) (outcomes)

  3. Student satisfaction indicators – from the National Student Survey (teaching quality and learning environment)

Fulfilling Our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice, paragraph 12

The reference to ‘HMRC data match’ in number 1 may be a a bit obscure, but we can supplement it with a note recently published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (hit tip, wonkhe), which wrote to the BIS Committee in December.

You may also wish to know that, reflecting growing use of data about the destinations of leavers from HE, we are currently reviewing national requirements for information. Our aim is to replace the current Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey, and the Longitudinal DLHE, in 2017. We aim to improve data quality and reduce the burden of collection, by linking to HMRC data made available under the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act. We will also utilise improved links back to our student data to enhance our understanding of the paths students take into and through study, and on to their next destination.

The HMRC data made available by the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act (SEE) refers to graduate salary, and hence loan repayment, data.

Last year, in a paper for Goldsmiths’ Political Economy Research Centre I described this ‘human capital’ metric as key to the next phase in Higher Education policy:

      if the Treasury funds HE education because students acquire skills and knowledge that ought to boost their productivity, then courses and institutions should be evaluated according to whether they do indeed provide training which does that.

Productivity would then by captured by earnings data. The SEE Act makes it possible for such metrics to be included in Key Information Set data provided by institutions; the TEF would link it to tuition fee levels. The first is already law, the second could be done using existing powers.

I understand that many want to keep an open mind about initiatives to improve education, but the TEF is skewed towards training.







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