As memories of Christmas, office parties and “festive” jumpers fade for another year, our thoughts turn to 2018 – the year ahead and its challenges, opportunities and aspirations.
The setting of new year resolutions can be a difficult topic for some. Memories of wasted gym membership fees and failed diets can put many people off from declaring new year resolutions. However, if your resolve remains firm at the start of 2018 I offer some data-related resolutions for your consideration.
Get your HECoS-groove on
The award-winning Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) becomes a reality from the start of the 2019/20 year. While this might seem a long way off, data processing for 2019 starts this year as data processes for the UCAS application cycle and SLC applications start to run. HECoS looks and feels very different to the JACS system it replaces and institutions have a major task of recoding courses and modules to the new structure.
The implementation of HECoS is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a subject-coding infrastructure that is defined and implemented consistently across a broad range of key HE processes. The dual prizes of eliminating duplication and providing more consistent and comparable information is within our grasp if we can get this right.
If HECoS coding is not already underway in your institution then you should get your HECoS-groove on and get with it!
Contact details for Graduate Outcomes
As the HE-policy and funding debate increasingly focuses on what graduates do after HE, the data about graduate destinations is more important than at any time since the Universities Statistical Record started collecting sector-level destinations data in the early 1970s.
HESA has undertaken a fundamental review of destinations data and the new Graduate Outcomes survey is the most significant change in this area for over forty years. The shift to a centralised collection process – and the move from a survey at 6 months to one at 15 months – makes the availability of high-quality contact details more significant, and more of a challenge, than at any previous time.
Data Futures preparation
The HESA Data Futures programme will transform the sector’s approach to student data collection and will deliver more timely and relevant data to underpin funding, regulation, policy and a myriad of other uses. Data Futures becomes data reality in 2019/20.
Over the past year HESA has published a wealth of material about the new collection process, timetable and data specification and, although there remains a lot of detail to work through, a clear picture of data collection in the Data Futures world has now emerged.
The impact on institutions could unlock significant changes and improvements in data processes. But the detail of what needs to be done will vary across institutions and it will require thorough analysis and detailed planning. Data Futures is on the horizon and the future has a habit of arriving sooner than you think.
Treating data as an asset
My final suggestion for a new year data resolution encompasses all the things I’ve mentioned above as well as the sector’s broader desire to be more efficient, better informed and improve the student experience through the provision of high-quality joined-up services.
In the twenty-first century data underpins every process and transaction that takes place across the sector. We make huge demands of our data and yet, all too often, we treat it with very little respect. If we are to drive real value from our data then we have to genuinely treat it as an asset with standards of control, management and oversight that are comparable to other assets such as people, buildings and money.
Staying the course
OK, so new year resolutions don’t have a great reputation for long-term success; It is all too easy to consider them optional or nice-to-have. The changes in data across the sector that are emerging this year are not optional and yet do provide an opportunity to build a data infrastructure that is fit for purpose for many years to come. So let’s keep talking, let’s keep sharing our problems and successes and let’s not lose sight of the benefits that all this work will deliver.
Right….I’m off to the gym.