HESA KIS Returns User Guide<>

Key Information Sets

What is KIS​?

KIS stands for Key Information Set. Key Information Sets are:

“comparable sets of information about full or part time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students. ” (source: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/whatwedo/lt/publicinfo/kis/)

Who is responsible for KIS?

KIS is a project of the The Higher Education Statistical Agency (HESA). HESA is the central agency for the collection and distribution of data relating to higher education institutions. It supports the government in determining higher education policy and the allocation of funding.

Where is the KIS information published?

All KIS information is published on the Unistats web-site (http://unistats.direct.gov.uk/) shown below (© Unistats). All institutions are required to provide a link to this site on their course pages.

In addition, a scrolling widget is displayed on the university’s course page. The example below is from Southampton Solent University (© Southampton Solent University).

Who collects the KIS information?​

The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) collates KIS information.

Who provides the KIS information?

The information will come from course providers (the universities) and from independent agencies sourced with collecting student opinions, employment data and institutional performance data. The information which universities will need to provide is described inWhere will the information come from?

What will KIS information look like when published?

The collected information is primarily used to facilitate comparison between courses. An example of such a comparison on the Unistats site (© Unistats) is shown below.

It is also possible to drill into a specific course to see the KIS information associated with the course.

What information is held in a KIS?

A KIS will contain the following categories of information:

Institutional level

accommodation costs

students’ union information

Subject level

student satisfaction

employment and salary information

Course level

course information

learning and teaching methods

assessment methods

professional accreditation

financial information,

such as fees, bursaries and scholarships

Sources: presentation from http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/


Where will the information come from?

The sources of information will be:

HEFCE: NSS for course satisfaction

HESA: DLHE for employability

institutions: course information, accommodation

fees and/or bursaries and scholarships.


TheNSS is the annual National Student Survey. The survey is commissioned by HEFCE and conducted by Ipsos MORI. See http://www.hefce.ac.uk/whatwedo/lt/publicinfo/nationalstudentsurvey/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Student_Survey for information.

The DLHE is the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destination_of_Leavers_from_Higher_Education. This information is collated and published by HESA. See http://www.hesa.ac.uk/index.php?option=com_pubs&task=show_pub_detail&pubid=1708&Itemid=286 and http://www.hesa.ac.uk/index.php?option=com_pubs&task=show_pub_detail&pubid=1714&Itemid=286

KIS information items and sources

The table below is taken from the ‘What the KIS contains’ tab from http://www.hefce.ac.uk/whatwedo/lt/publicinfo/kis/ (© HEFCE).

We have highlighted in orange the information that institutions have to provide. It is this information that the Quercus KIS application helps you to produce and to collate.

Information items for publication in the KIS

Source of this information

Level of this information

For the September 2012 KIS, information will relate to:


Results from the following NSS questions:

Staff are good at explaining things

Staff have made the subject interesting

Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of my course

I have received sufficient advice and support with my studies

Feedback on my work has been prompt

Feedback on my work has helped me clarify things I did not understand

The library resources are good enough for my needs

I have been able to access general IT resources when I needed to

HEFCE to draw from the NSS

Course level or aggregated

2012 NSS results

Proportion of time spent in various learning and teaching activities – by year/stage of study, with a link to further detail

Institution to provide to HEFCE

Course level

Typical student path

Mix of summative assessment methods – by year/stage of study

Professional bodies that recognise this course, with a link to further detail

Planned for academic year 2013-14

Costs and financial support

Institution owned/sponsored accommodation: average annual costs - upper and lower quartiles, and number of units (to which students can reasonably expect to have access)

Private rental accommodation: average annual costs - upper and lower quartiles

Institution to provide to HEFCE

Institutional level

Academic year 2012-13

Financial support available from the institution: whether it offers a fee waiver; means-tested support; non means-tested support; National Scholarship Programme; and a link to more detailed information

Institution to provide to HEFCE (to be confirmed)

Course level

Planned for academic year 2013-14

Fees per year for England-domiciled applicants

Institution to provide to HEFCE (to be confirmed)

Course level

Planned for academic year 2013-14

Employment and salary information

The destinations of graduates six months after completing their course – comprising working, studying, working and studying, unemployed, and not available for work

HEFCE to draw six-month figures from the Destinations of Leavers from HE (DLHE) survey and 40-month figures from the Longitudinal DLHE survey

Course level or aggregated

2010-11 DLHE and Longitudinal DLHE results

Of those in employment, the proportion in managerial/professional jobs six months after graduation.

Salary data:

upper quartile, median and lower quartile six months after graduation from the course at the institution displaying the KIS

upper quartile, median and lower quartile for the subject across all institutions six months after graduation

upper quartile, median and lower quartile for the subject across all institutions at 40 months after graduation

Students’ union

Additional question to be added to the NSS regarding satisfaction with the SU

HEFCE to draw from the NSS

Institutional level

2012 NSS results

What is a KIS return?

A KIS return is a set of information which must be submitted by a KIS information provider (see above) in order to meet its statutory obligation. Therefore the KIS return provided by an academic institution will contain an information set relating to the areas highlighted in the table in Where will the information come from?, above.

What is the format of a KIS return?

A KIS return is in an XML format defined by an XSD schema. An example of a KIS return in XML format is given under Example return created by Quercus in XML format.

Scope of KIS

KIS returns must be submitted for:

“All full-time and part-time undergraduate courses planned for 2013-14 in institutions which subscribe to the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA).

“Undergraduate programmes taught through further education colleges in England and Wales (this applies to colleges funded indirectly through a higher education institution and for courses HEFCE funds directly).

The only exceptions are short courses (one year full-time equivalent or less), postgraduate courses, those delivered wholly overseas, and closed courses. ” (source: ‘Overview’ tab from http://www.hefce.ac.uk/whatwedo/lt/publicinfo/kis/ (© HEFCE)).

How KIS returns are submitted

KIS returns are submitted in the same way as other HESA returns through the HESA data collection portal at https://submit.hesa.ac.uk/.

After you have entered KIS data using the method described in Entering KIS data, you can create a KIS return using the method described in Creating a KIS return in Quercus. Download this return and then submit via the HESA portal.