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HESA data – HNCs & HNDs

February 8, 2017

HESA has today published data on enrolments and qualifications achieved for students at alternative providers designated for student support.

I have a particular interest in the data for students registered on Pearson’s HNC and HND qualifications, which were the focus of a National Audit Office investigation in 2014.

Today’s data shows that nearly 15,000 full-time students were registered on an HNC or HND in 2015/16 – 8200 of them were first years. This compares to 22,605 enrolments in the previous year when the split between 1st and 2nd years was 9500:13 100.

So numbers continue to fall since the high point of 2013/14, when roughly 40,000 such students were in receipt of loan funding.

In terms of qualifications, 4180 were achieved by full-time students in 2015/16. Unfortunately – for reasons unknown – HESA does not separate HNCs from HNDS here. An HNC is level 4; and HND level 5. It is important to be able to assess how many FT first years are achieving HNCs and also how many students go into the second year, aim for an HND but only achieve an HNC.

The best possible scenario from the HESA data is that 4180 HNDs were awarded from a pool of roughly 6 800 candidates. This though is unlikely.

The data needs to be improved but perhaps can go back to the 2014/15 data in light of the new figures. Last year, 4300 qualifications were achieved.

Since we can make a reasonable assumption that the 9500 FT first years in 2014/15 translated into 6800 second years, there is a pool of 2700 students who might have achieved HNCs in 2014/15. This would mean that a ‘rough achievement rate’ for 2014/15 was in the region of 27 per cent: 4300 qualifications and 15,800 students leaving study.

Obviously a bit rough and ready, but the HESA data isn’t satisfactory on this score. Just a reminder: each full-time student could be accessing £6000 per year in tuition fees and c. £10,000 in maintenance support.

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