Support #1832

Highest qualification variables - query about correct variable and coverage of non-UK qualifications

Added by Thomas Stephens over 1 year ago. Updated 2 months ago.

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I just have a couple of very minor queries about the variables on qualifications in Understanding Society. By my understanding there are quite a wide range of variables on this. I'm particularly interested in the two derived variables on the highest qualification (hiqual_dv and qfhigh_dv), and the variables which are used to create these derived scores.

I wasn't clear on the following issues from the documentation or questionnaire:

1. How do these two derived variables relate to each other? The variable notes for both of them are worded very similarly. Is hiqual_dv just a shortened version of qfhigh_dv, giving a narrower range of qualifications?

2. Are non-UK qualifications included in the derived variable, or would anyone with only non-UK qualifications be classed as inapplicable in highqual_dv and qfhigh_dv? The two derived variables refer to "highest qualification" and not "highest UK qualification", which implies that they are. However I note the variable on the highest non-UK qualifications (qfhighoth was only asked in waves 6, 9 and 10-12?

Any help or advice you could give on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in anticipation.


Updated by Understanding Society User Support Team over 1 year ago

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Many thanks for your enquiry. The Understanding Society team is looking into it and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

We aim to respond to simple queries within 48 hours and more complex issues within 7 working days. While we will aim to keep to this response times due to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) related situation it may take us longer to respond.

Best wishes,
Understanding Society User Support Team


Updated by Understanding Society User Support Team over 1 year ago

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Hello Thomas,

For your first question.
The key highest educational qualification variables are QFHIGH_DV and HIQUAL_DV. HIQUAL_DV is a summary variable for QFHIGH_DV, containing five categories of qualification.

For your second question
Not all respondents were ever asked the highest educational qualification question (QFHIGH). Such cases are identified by a flag variable (QFHIGHFL_DV). From Wave 6 onwards this group also includes members of the Immigrant and Ethnic Minority Boost Sample (IEMB) who provided an adult interview and reported that their highest qualification was obtained abroad. From wave 9 onwards you have the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) in variable ISCED11_DV.
For more information, please check the FAQ “Which is the best qualification variable to use?” and “What are all the different education variables?” In the FAQ section: FAQ/QUESTIONS ABOUT VARIABLES at

Hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Understanding Society User Support Team


Updated by Understanding Society User Support Team over 1 year ago

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Updated by Understanding Society User Support Team 5 months ago

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Updated by Martha Tindall 4 months ago

I am struggling to find this faq you refer to, please could you link it?


Updated by Understanding Society User Support Team 2 months ago

Sorry this question was removed from the FAQ as the detailed note had been included as variable notes for QFHIGH_DV and HIQUAL_DV.

We also now have a list of key variables available from our Variable Search page:

Hope this helps.
Understanding Society User Support Team

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