We are testing a new beta website for gov.scot go to new site

Methodological Note For Analyses Relating To Students In Higher Education

Methodological Note:

Data Sources

The higher education datasets contain information on students from both Colleges and HEIs who are attending Higher Education courses in Scotland. These statistics are collected by the Higher Education Statistics Agency ( HESA) from HEIs and by the Scottish Funding Council ( SFC) from Further Education Colleges (Colleges).

Where analysis refers to institutions (rather than HEIs or colleges) student data from both Scottish HEIs and Scottish colleges has been combined to report on all Scottish institutions.

HE Data Sources


Following consultation in 2007 the method of identifying students was changed in 2009 to provide a greater level of consistency with HESA. The figures in these datasets that relate to higher education institutions are defined by HESA's standard registration population 2008-09. To allow comparisons across years all time-series have been revised according to this definition.

The standard registration population includes all higher education student instances active at a reporting institution at any point in the reporting period 1 st August to 31 st July except; dormant students, incoming visiting exchange students, students who study wholly outside the UK, students on sabbatical and writing up students. In these datasets students studying at Open University are counted as studying within the country of their domicile (see note on 'Open University' below).

Data from Scottish colleges continues to be reported in the same way as in previous years and excludes those students who do not complete the first 25% of their course (the point at which they become eligible for funding).

Student Instances

HESA's Student Records use the term 'instance' to describe a student's engagement within an institution. A student may enrol on more than one course and therefore have more than one instance. It is instances that are reported in these datasets. This approach is consistent with that of HESA. The same approach is taken when reporting on student activity at Scottish colleges. Where references are made in this release to 'students' this should be interpreted as 'instances'.

Full-Time Equivalents

Full-time Equivalents ( FTE) represent the expected hours of learning undertaken by a student during their course, as a proportion of the expected hours of learning of full-time study, according to the best academic judgement of the reporting institution. For example; a student with an FTE of 0.8 is expected to undertake 20 per cent less hours of learning relative to a full-time student on the same course, a student with an FTE of 1.2 is expected to undertake 20 per cent more hours of learning relative to a full-time student on the same course.

At UKHEIs full-time students are those normally required to attend an institution for periods amounting to at least 24 weeks within the year of study, on thick or thin sandwich courses, and those on a study-related year out of their institution. During that time students are normally expected to undertake periods of study, tuition or work experience which amount to an average of at least 21 hours per week.

At Scottish colleges full-time HE students are those which meet the criteria of at least 480 planned notional hours.

Open University

Students attending Open University whose pre study location (domicile) was in Scotland are included in these datasets as studying at a Scottish HEI. Where comparisons are made to other UK countries, Open University is regarded as a separate institution in each country. Students studying at Open University whose pre study location was outside the UK or recorded as an unknown UK domicile are excluded. This methodology differs from that used by HESA where Open University is counted as a wholly English institution - as a result student figures reported in these datasets will differ from those reported by HESA.

UK Comparisons

Unless stated otherwise, data from UK institutions outside of Scotland are not included in the analysis. Where data from UK institutions outside of Scotland are included, the analysis compares only HEIs and does not include data from Scottish colleges. In 2008-09 17.3 per cent of HE students enrolled at Scottish institutions (including Open University) were studying at Scottish colleges.

Entrants from Deprived Areas of Scotland

Analysis of entrants from deprived areas of Scotland is based on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation ( SIMD). The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (2009) combines 38 indicators across 7 domains, namely: income, employment, health, education, skills and training, housing, geographic access and crime. The overall index is a weighted sum of the seven domain scores. The weighting for each domain is based on the relative importance of the domain in measuring multiple deprivation, the robustness of the data and the time lag between data collection and the production of the SIMD.

Entrants from deprived areas are Scottish domiciled entrants to HE whose pre-study location was within one of the 20 per cent lowest ranked areas in Scotland. The SIMD is split into 6,505 small areas called datazones, with the 20 per cent lowest ranked areas comprising of datazones 1 to 1301. A process of postcode matching was undertaken to identify which datazones students belonged to prior to study. In 2008-09, 97.8% of Scottish domiciled students were successfully matched through this process before entrant populations were defined. Entrants whose postcodes belonged to one of the 20% lowest ranked datazones in the SIMD are classified as entrants from deprived areas.

To date, there have been three SIMDs ( SIMD 2004, SIMD 2006 and SIMD 2009). For each academic year contained within the analysis in this release, the most appropriate SIMD (relative to the time-period of applications to study HE in the UK) was selected for use with entrant data for the particular academic year. The table below displays the factors considered when pairing student records to versions of SIMD.

SIMD method_2008/09

In these datasets, academic years 2001-02 to 2004-05 relate to SIMD 2004, 2005-06 and 2006-07 relate to SIMD 2006 and academic years 2007-08 and 2008-09 relate to SIMD 2009.

More information on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation can be found at the following web address: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/SIMD.

International Students

European Union ( EU) figures include accession countries according to EU membership at the start of each academic year. In 2008-09 EU member countries included; Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. In this release the United Kingdom is reported separately from other EU countries.

Non- EU Europe Includes European countries not included in the European Union; Albania, Azerbaijani Republic, Belorussia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Monaca, Norway, Russia, San Marino, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Non- European includes all other countries outside of Europe and the European Union.

Level of Study

Postgraduate students include; doctorate, masters, postgraduate bachelors degrees, postgraduate diplomas or certificates, PGCE/ PGDE and professional qualification at postgraduate level. In 2007-08 professional graduate certificates in education were reported as undergraduate qualifications and separately from postgraduate certificates in education, in years prior to this both are reported as postgraduate certificates in education.

First Degree students include; first degrees, first degrees with qualified teacher status, enhanced first degrees, first degrees obtained concurrently with a diploma and intercalated first degrees.

Sub Degree students include; Diploma of Higher Education (Dip HE), Certificate of Higher Education (Cert HE), professional qualification at undergraduate level, foundation courses at HE level, HND, HNC, NVQ/ SVQ levels 5 and 4, diplomas and certificates at undergraduate level and other formal HE qualifications of less than degree standard. Other HE includes all sub-degree level study excluding HNCs/ HNDs.

Subject Tables

Subject data from higher education institutions is apportioned to broadly reflect the weight of a particular subject within the study programmes of individual enrolments. This process is consistent with the treatment of subject breakdowns by the Higher Education Statistics Agency ( HESA). Supplementary subject figures are included in the main subject groupings. They are also reported separately for clarity. Economics and politics is included in social studies, English is included in languages, geography is included in social studies, environmental science is included in physical sciences and psychology is included in biological sciences.

Data Presentation

In all datasets figures have been rounded to the nearest 5. 0, 1, 2 are rounded to 0. Unknown values are not displayed individually in tables but are included in totals. Figures may not sum to totals due to rounding and the inclusion of unknown values. Unless stated otherwise, percentages in tables are calculated from unrounded values.