STROBE

STROBE is a UCAS service that can track individuals into the UCAS applications system, and report anonymously on their outcomes or characteristics at aggregate levels.

Users can request different output measures or reporting categories, according to what is best for their data. STROBE is particularly suitable for anonymous evaluation of application and entry outcomes from groups of individuals who have taken part in activities designed to encourage entry to higher education. It can also be used to obtain anonymous statistics – including those available through the EXACT service – for any group of individuals.

Our STROBE service can take individual level data (name, date of birth, and home postcode), link those records into our data resources, and then calculate anonymous aggregate statistics for data submitted. To use STROBE, you will need to have named personal data, for which you have the correct authority and permission to submit into the service for processing and receive anonymous statistical reports back. 

No personal information is ever disclosed through the STROBE service. Personal data transferred into STROBE for processing is destroyed at the end of the process, or after a specified period of time if the user has requested that it be retained for an updated analysis at a later point.

STROBE can report on a standardised but configurable range of application outcomes, covering the entire application process from application through to offer making and replies, and finally to acceptance into HE. All the outputs and definitions are to the same standards and definitions as our national reporting on the UCAS Undergraduate scheme, and can be directly compared to them for reference.

Users of STROBE can request separate reports categorised by their own data variables. As well as the standardised outputs, STROBE can be used to access the wide range of variables in our EXACT data service. This facility allows you to further customise your reports, for example, anonymous statistics on the A level qualifications achieved, or to understand the profile of a group by school type, ethnic group, or social group. 

STROBE is a flexible facility that can help with:

  • independent reporting on the outcomes of widening participation and fair access activities to assured and understood standards
  • checking the targeting of widening participation activities is as expected
  • evaluation of effectiveness of different activities, including randomised trials
  • understanding the outcomes of open days and other promotional activities

What does STROBE do?

STROBE provides a series of highly detailed standardised tables which report on the number and proportion of individuals who had particular outcomes. These tables provide aggregate level information with built in disclosure control, which means users can share the results without restriction or risk of disclosing personal information.

A STROBE output consists of core tracking information, summary charts giving an overview of key statistics, and four standard tables, each focusing on a specific part of the application journey.

  1. Applications – the number of applicants and applications, including overall application rate, and the route through which applications were made.
  2. Offers – the number of offers received and the proportion of the cohort receiving an offer, split by whether the offers are conditional or unconditional.
  3. Replies – the number of offers replied to and whether they were firm or insurance.
  4. Acceptances – the number of people accepted, the acceptance rate, and the route through which acceptance was gained.

For each stage of the higher education process, STROBE will compare the data supplied by the customer with an appropriate control group, and report on any significant change achieved.

In addition, the tables can be customised to suit user requirements. The user can:

  • specify a set of higher education providers for which outcomes are reported (for example, mission groups or individual providers)
  • request separate reports for different groups of individuals (for example, men and women, people who participated in different outreach activities, or treatment and control groups)

STROBE users may also request that their linked data is used as the scope of an EXACT request. This allows further investigation of applicants by the full set of variables and statistics available in this service.

Here is an example of a low volume output

Terms and conditions will apply to STROBE outputs. If you think STROBE may be useful for you, please email strobe@ucas.ac.uk for a discussion. We’re at an early stage of developing this service and always welcome new ideas or potential applications.


STROBE pricing

STROBE is currently operated by the UCAS charity as a sustainable service, priced to cover its operational and development costs.

The basic pricing for STROBE is on a per record submitted basis, at a base of £5 per record submitted. This charge is reduced if only a low proportion of records are linked into the UCAS data. STROBE users who are organisational customers of the UCAS Undergraduate scheme (higher education providers and apply centres) have a separate pricing arrangement. The minimum charge for an initial STROBE execution will be £400.

For potential users who have many data records but require only summary information, or a link into the EXACT data service, a simplified version of STROBE (with less configurability) is available at a fixed cost of £2,000.

For analysis of recognised widening participation and fair access activities where the pricing of STROBE is preventing access, we have a public benefit programme. Please contact us for a discussion of how this works.