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History & development

In 2007, UniversitiesUK and GuildHE published Beyond the Honours Degree Classification: the Burgess Group final report. This recommended the introduction of a new Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR), building upon the European Diploma Supplement, to enable institutions to provide a fuller record of student achievement.

The Burgess Implementation Steering Group (BISG) was established by UniversitiesUK and GuildHE to trial the HEAR and make recommendations on implementation. Since then, the BISG has developed, tested and trialled the HEAR in 30 institutions across the UK.

The trialling of the HEAR has sought to address a wide range of issues including value to students and employers, technical issues relating to student records, cost and potential for enhancing the student experience. The BISG has been supported in its work by individuals and organisations, including higher education funding councils across the UK, the Higher Education Academy, The Centre for Recording Achievement, JISC, the National Union of Students and the Association of Graduate Recruiters.

In 2008 the Group recruited 18 institutions to pilot the HEAR in specific subject areas. Following a National Dissemination Conference in November 2009 a further group of institutions opted to join the second phase of the trial, which focused on the development of capacity to roll-out the HEAR to whole year groups.

The current position is that 90 institutions are implementing the HEAR; on the basis of systematic trialling a number of institutions are able to produce a HEAR for all their graduates, and Institutional Guidance has been finalised. At their Board meetings at the end of June 2012, Universities UK and GuildHE recommended roll-out of the HEAR to the higher education sector. In October 2012, UniversitiesUK and GuildHE stated their full endorsement of the final report on the HEAR, Bringing it all together – Introducing the HEAR.

The HEAR is the culmination of a considered and thorough process that began in 2004. Taking the HEAR from its original idea to implementation has been a significant task for the Burgess Implementation Steering Group (BISG). It has been a shared and inclusive task that has involved the institutions and key agencies that make up the UK higher education landscape. For example, engaging students has been crucial to ensuring effective trialling and the work of the National Union of Students (NUS) and students’ unions has been essential to securing this.

This also includes the trialling institutions themselves and the Centre for Recording Achievement (CRA) which, with assistance from the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and JISC, designed and led the operation of the trialling process. Our work also received support from the QAA and the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).