What I happened upon today is the HESA “provider changes and mergers” tables, available as of 16 September as a download. As HESA itself says:
Provider metadata is published as html tables displayed directly on the web pages and in machine readable files published as part of HESA’s commitment HESA to providing ‘open data’. This is intended to aid analysis of HESA’s Official Statistics published data.
How could I resist! The story of higher education is littered with former providers, mergers, and name changes – decisions that symbolise everything from policy changes to strategic planning to marketing whims. At various points most of these have submitted data to HESA – and England’s designated data body has kept a record over everything from the surprisingly common addition or removal of the word “The” up to when providers merge, demerge, or leave the sector.
So here is a summary of all that information in chart form:
Click on the year you are interested in, and scroll down the journal at the bottom for information on what happened. You’ll note two peaks of new providers – in 1993-94 when HESA started, and in 2017-18 after the passage of the Higher Education and Research Act in 2017. The data isn’t fabulous quality, as you’d expect from administrative data, but it is a fascinating look into the way the sector has changed over time.
I’ve also built you a look-up for individual providers – note that this isn’t perfect as new provider names don’t always link cleanly back to old providers (though in most cases it works). But it’s enough to get you started.
Sector history does tend to end up preserved only in lists like this, so major kudos to HESA for sharing this with us all.