Introducing the Higher Education Initial Participation (HEIP) measure
This statistical publication presents the latest Higher Education Initial Participation (HEIP) measure. The HEIP has been published by DfE (and former Departments) since 2004, and the measure is the sum of the age specific entry rates for the 17 to 30 year old population in England in each academic year. It can be thought of as a projection of the likelihood of a 17-year-old today participating in higher education by age 30 if the latest year's entry rates persisted in the future.
The HEIP was formerly known as the Higher Education Initial Participation Rate (HEIPR). The measure has been renamed this year following feedback from users about the validity of it being described as a rate. Further information is available in this communication from the Office for Statistics Regulation:
Ed Humpherson to Neil McIvor, DfE regarding the Higher Education Initial Participation Rate (HEIPR) – Office for Statistics Regulation (statisticsauthority.gov.uk)
Changes in coverage
The HEIP measure includes 17 to 30 year-old English domiciled first-time participants in higher education at UK higher education providers (HEPs), and at English, Welsh and Scottish Further Education Providers (FEPs).
The coverage of the HEIP measure has been boosted in this year's publication by the inclusion of initial participants registered at additional providers of higher education who have been returning data to the Higher Education Statistic Agency's (HESA) Alternative Provider (AP) record. This impacts the HEIP measure from 2014/15 onwards, and the Postgraduate Initial Participation (PGIP) measure from 2017/18 onwards.
The impact of the change in coverage is shown in the headline chart and table of the publication. In the remainder of the publication, figures are presented with a break in the series to make clear that figures prior to 2014/15 are on a different basis.
Limitations with the HEIP methodology
The HEIP National Statistic has been published by DfE (and former Departments) since 2004, and the measure is an estimate of the actual entry rate in the current year of people who had not previously entered higher education between the ages 17 and 30. For each age from 17 to 30, the initial participation rate is calculated as the fraction of the academic year population that are initial entrants. These rates are added to create the total HEIP measure. It is not a measure of participation by particular entry cohorts.
When there is steady growth in entry rates for younger age groups (as has been observed over many years for English 18 year-olds), the HEIP method of summing current participation rates will show a higher participation rate than the participation rate for a particular entry cohort. For example, today’s 30 year-olds, will have had a lower initial participation rate when they were aged 18 compared to today’s 18 year-olds.
A rough estimate of rates for particular entry cohorts can be constructed by summing the initial entry rates across academic years. For example, the 17 year-old entry rate in 2006/07, would be added to the 18 year old rate in 2007/08, and to the 19 year-old rate in 2008/09, and so on.
Future development of the participation measure and cohort measures
Since passing the milestone of 50% participation in higher education by the 17 to 30 year-old population, the continuing relevance of this National Statistic is being considered. DfE intends to actively contact users to understand their uses of the HEIP measure and if this series should continue in future.
Initial participation in higher education by age 30 can be measured more precisely by tracking a cohort of school leavers over-time. A limitation with the cohort approach is that it takes 13 years to measure participation by age 30 of a 17-year-old today. The HEIP measure provides a more timely, but less precise, estimate of participation that includes mature students. In order to inform debate over the future of this National Statistics series, we have included a discussion paper on the advantages of measuring initial participation using a cohort approach in future.
If you wish to have a say on the future of the HEIP measure, please complete the questionnaire provided and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2006/07 was the first year for which data are available using the current HEIP methodology. Historic figures from 1999/00 have been included for reference in a supplementary downloadable file named "historic initial participation data 1999 to 2006 (old methodology)”. These figures are not comparable to those throughout this publication. Details of the methodological changes were reported in
[ARCHIVED CONTENT] DIUS: Participation Rates in Higher Education: Academic Years 1999/2000-2007/08 (Provisional) (nationalarchives.gov.uk)
Initial participant counts have been rounded to the nearest five in line with the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s (HESA) rounding policy . Calculated percentages have been rounded to one decimal place to inform comparisons over time. Rounding may result in slight inconsistencies between totals and sums of their constituent parts.