Academic Year 2018/19

Participation measures in higher education


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 participation 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 (

Future development of the participation measure

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.

Cohort measures

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 by 21st January 2021.  The discussion paper and questionnaire can be found under the tab “Download associated files” below.

Headline facts and figures - 2018/19

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