Denise Thorpe, University of Anglia Ruskin (UHR)
Graham Fice (SROC)
Ian Carter, University of Sussex (ARMA)
Lucy Hodson, De Montford University (AUA National Planning Group)
Myles Danson (JISC)
Peter Tinson (UCISA)
Paul Youngson, University of Huddersfield (AGCAS)
Shaila Shastry, University of West of England (BUFDG)
Sue Holmes, Leeds Metropolitan University (AUDE)
Vikki Goddard, University of Liverpool (AUA National Planning Group)
Alison Allden, Chief Executive (Chair)
Alison Berry, Head of Institutional Liaison
Andy Youell, Director of Quality and Development
Catherine Benfield, Head of Operations Development
Jackie Hood, Secretary to HEI User Group, HESA
Jane Wild, Director of Operations
Jonathan Waller, Director of Information and Analysis
Louise Casella, Cardiff University (AHUA)
Emma Woollard, University of Portsmouth (BUFDG)
Ruth Adams, University of Strathclyde (Scottish Planning Group)
Russell Roberts, University of Derby (SROC)
Stephen Boyd, University of Huddersfield (AGCAS)
Sue Grant, University of Hertfordshire (ARC)
1. Welcome and introductions
Alison Allden, Chief Executive of HESA welcomed everyone to the meeting and introductions were made. Ian Carter (ARMA) and Sue Holmes (AUDE) were attending for the first time. Shaila Shastry BUFDG), Graham Fice (SROC) and Paul Youngston (AGCAS) were attending on behalf of user group members who were not available to attend on this occasion. Lucy Hodson was in attendance and will represent the AUA Planning community when Vikki Goddard goes off on maternity leave at the end of January.
2. Minutes from the previous meeting
The minutes from the previous meeting were agreed and it was noted that the list of action points contained within the minutes had all been completed.
3. User Group ‘Round Table' updates
Each member of the User Group provided an update on current activities, which were of interest to the group, on how they interact with HESA and its data. HESA have just recently taken over the Estates Management data collection and Sue Holmes reported that AUDE have recently reached an agreement with HESA on releasing the data through heidi although there are still some issues to be resolved with the devolved administrations whose legislation is slightly different. HESA has provided nationwide training to estates colleagues over the past few weeks and further training will be provided on utilising heidi. It was also acknowledged that the profile of EMS data is rising, as interest in space efficiencies, the student experience and carbon emissions increase.
There were many common themes running through the group's reports. HESA will have a presence at most of the user group's member conferences next year and will attend or present on a number of data related issues as well as demonstrating the new version of heidi. Looking at shared services and identifying whether these can be cost effective is also becoming more common within the sector and the potential opportunities to extract data which might arise. Colleagues are also very interested in the cost centre review, linking to JACS and getting more granularity from the data. Everyone reported that they are having to ‘do more' with less funding available and income and expenditure is high up on all agendas. Colleagues are keeping abreast with new projects which are undeway such as the current consultation on Public Information including the KIS (Key Information Set for prospective student information) and Myles Danson reported on the projects which JISC will be initiating which will be of interest to members.
There was a brief discussion on the staff record and the issue with the reporting of equality data which is yet to be resolved. Denise Thorpe was unaware that the meeting with HEFCE and EHRC (Equalities and Human Rights Commission) had taken place as she should have been invited and this will be raised with Richard Puttock. Action: HESA
It was extremely interesting to hear what activities are currently underway and Alison Allden thanked everyone for their contributions.
4. Discussion around Chief Executive's Report
The group were in receipt of the Chief Executive's Report which Alison had prepared for the HESA Board meeting on 3 December. She focussed on some of the highlights from the report.
Benchmarking activities and improving business intelligence is high up on everyone's agenda as is the White Paper and the post Browne Review implications which remain unclear except for the changes to the student tuition fees. Reviewing the data burden and re-analysing what is currently being collected and timeliness and quality of data will continue to be key concerns, as well as the importance of comparable UK wide data.
The growth of Private Providers is another important consideration and HESA has been carrying out a survey for BIS to identify how many there are, the number of students and the courses being offered. The results will be available at the end of January.
Andy Youell provided an update on the survey of PSRB data requests, which had been sent out via AHUA to all HEIs. 48 responses had been received which are currently being analysed, however it is interesting to note that no-one has a definitive list of what is being asked for and what is being asked for is described in many different ways. Further work will take place by the project team of the HE Better Regulation Group before the results are finalised and circulated. It was felt that this is a challenging area, however there are opportunities for improvement and the HEBRG secretariat will investigate this in their quest for identifying areas for reducing reporting and burden to the sector.
Jonathan Waller updated colleagues on the benchmarking project. Phase 1 which focussed on assimilating the information is now published on the HESA website. A proposal for Phase 2 has been submitted to HEFCE and a positive response is anticipated to enable the work to commence early in the New Year. The first set of objectives is to promote benchmarking activities to senior colleagues and engage with them to identify business need and demonstrate the benefits. It is intended in-depth case studies will identify good practice and shared ideas. The longer term aim is for the heidi system to be further developed to support further benchmarking activities. It was acknowledged the there are several commercial companies already providing benchmarking facilities to the sector and contact has already been made with them.
The User Group will be asked for their advice and guidance during the project.
Alison ran through the current and planned record reviews. Reviews on both staff and DLHE have commenced and there are several issues which need further investigation and consultation to reach an agreement. HESA acknowledged the need to engage more with BUFDG for training around the finance data collection return, as HESA does not have financial expertise to support an in depth understanding of this return.
Andy Youell reported on the cost centre review project which had taken the form of an online discussion forum over a period of a week. This had been a very interesting perspective from HESA's point of view and a consultation document will be circulated to the sector in the New Year based on the feedback. Several lessons were learnt about how better to conduct such an exercise.
Alison mentioned the recent internal HESA process review and restructuring exercise which has recently been carried out. The new structures will be introduced and communicated to external stakeholders and groups in the New Year.
5. HESA's Strategic Plan 2010 - 2014
The User Group had been involved in earlier discussions of the new strategy and copies of the Strategic Plan which is now live on the website were made available.
6. Official Statistics Assessment
Jonathan Waller reported that HESA had been assessed as an official statistics producer, under the new regulations, over the summer months which had proved to be a fairly time-consuming exercise. The final report is now available and has been published on the UK Statistics Authority website. The assessment had gone very well with only a few recommendations identified. It was recognised that HESA engages extremely well with its main audience i.e. the sector however it was felt that there is room for improvement in relation to HESA's engagement with the general public. More commentary has been recommended with data output and more focus on topical trends. The report also suggested that the UK HE volume should be made available free online. These recommendations are being considered with colleagues in BIS with a timeframe of 3 months in which to respond before being reassessed.
7. HE Sector Conferences
As mentioned in the user group round table reports HESA has a high presence at the sector conferences next year. The JISC Conference in Liverpool on 15/16 March and the ARMA Conference on 7/8 June in Glasgow has been added to the list, as well as Alison's intended presentation at the AUA Planners Forum in February.
8. Senior Liaison Officers in HEIs
Jane Wild and Alison Berry had prepared a paper for discussion in relation to establishing one senior liaison officer contact within each institution in addition to the record contacts already identified. This proposal was first raised when the Data Efficiency Report was published and would seek to strengthen the two-way communication between HEIs and HESA on an ongoing basis at a more senior level. User Group members welcomed this initiative however there were concerns raised about who this person should be and it was agreed that the best way forward would be to contact AHUA who would be the best group to provide a steer on this. Action: HESA
9. HESA communication with the sector - web presence
Sarah Mowl, a consultant who has been helping HESA colleagues with a review of the website joined the meeting. HESA are currently undergoing an exercise to try to ascertain who the users are and what they actually need from the website. Sarah has produced a list of questions and has been contacting stakeholders and gathering feedback which will be analysed before any new development takes places on the website.
Jonathan Waller gave user group members a brief demonstration of the website and colleagues provided feedback on areas of the website they felt could be improved.
Colleagues liked the 6 panels but felt that this could potentially be a ‘route in' and perhaps there should be a membership log in area for regular HEI colleagues who would be accessing mainly the data collection reports and guidance.
Other websites which are used by members include the Funding Councils, UUK, HEIs, UCAS, Government Bodies and UKBA. When asked how the HESA website compared colleagues responded that it was ‘dated and busy' other websites had ‘moved on' and the typeface was ‘dated'. There was also the suggestion of a new logo. On a positive note colleagues liked the press releases and the training programme was easy to find and book. Colleagues were very impressed with the newly designed JISC website.
There was also a discussion on the amount of old data and it was felt that any data older than 10 years should not be visible on the website.
When asked what they would change colleagues felt that the website undersells the Agency and a missed opportunity to promote the services and facilities that HESA has to offer. The information needs to be much more accessible and a complete reformat of the homepage could interact with a much wider audience.
User Group members were asked to forward colleagues names and email addresses who are frequent website users who Sarah Mowl could then make contact with carry out some telephone interviews to Page 5 of 5 minutes_website.doc ensure that as broad a range of feedback as possible is received. Action: User Group - email contact details to Jonathan Waller.
There was a good suggestion that perhaps a dialogue box could be visible for users to post their own comments on the website and this will be considered as part of the review. Action: HESA
10. Any other business
There being no other business Alison Allden brought the meeting to a close. 11. Date of Next meeting Dates will be canvassed for the next meeting which will be in June 2011.
11. Actions from this meeting:
1. Make contact with Richard Puttock re HRC meeting - HESA
2. Communicate with AHUA re steer on Senior Liaison Officer contact - HESA
3. Send relevant contact details to JW re web survey - User Group members