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Demand-side Code of practice

Data collectors need data at the right time, at the right quality, and with the assurance it is fit for purpose for the stated use-case(s). They must be sensitive to the burden of the requests they make. The processes that define and assess a request for data should be designed to minimise the burden on HE providers.

Data suppliers should be informed promptly if errors are found in the specification after it has been released, or in the data after it has been collected.

Principles of data collection for data collectors


Data collectors must be open and transparent about intended uses for the data. They must act in an accountable manner by accepting and responding to scrutiny of requests for data, and by not withholding relevant information.


  • The use-case defines the value of the requirement and must be considered against an assessment of not undertaking the data collection.
  • Requests for data must adhere to relevant regulatory frameworks for data, including but not limited to, the Data Protection Act, the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation, the Freedom of Information Act, the Equalities Act, and the UK Statistics Code.
  • Demonstrating compliance with this principle can be achieved by operating a governance process that is consistent with this Code of practice.


Data requests must be defined objectively, fairly, and on merit. Requested data should aim to offer the best evidence available for the requirement. Discrimination and bias must be avoided in the definition and use of data. Data collectors should implement controls to ensure that those dealing with data act with integrity and in the public interest, and are protected from inappropriate influence.


  • Data collectors should operate a governance process to develop a co-designed solution. They should develop metrics or other measures to define the success of that solution.
  • Data collectors should ensure that the quality criteria are necessary and sufficient for the merits of the request.


Repeatable, auditable, and documented processes are essential for data being defined, scoped, approved, implemented, and analysed. Data definitions should align with relevant published standards; the use of any non-standard definitions or the duplication of any existing data collection must be supported by a strong rationale. Each request must be supported by a burden assessment.


  • Data collectors should be able to justify requests from an informed position of the impact on data suppliers.
  • Burden must be assessed through the use of a best practice methodology, the output of which creates a publicly available impact assessment for review and challenge. This assessment should demonstrate diligence around minimising any increase in burden for implementation and ongoing operation.
  • When specifications change, records should be kept of previous versions.
  • Estimates and assumptions in interpreting the data as part of onward use should be:
    • Defensible
    • Evidence-based
    • Documented
    • Reviewed regularly.

Implementing the demand-side Code of practice

Data collectors are encouraged to sign-up to the demand-side Code of practice and to make a public statement to this effect. This statement could include a link this page and/or the use of a Code of practice logo.












DLSG Code of practice logo (portrait)           DLSG Code of practice logo (landscape)

(Right click on either of the above depending on logo required and select 'Save link as'.)

If a higher education provider thinks that a data collector is in breach of the demand-side Code of practice then the issue should be raised with the data collector and taken through any dialogue and/or complaints process. If the issue remains unresolved then it can be reported to DLSG.