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Collection Governance: feedback from Scotland

The Collection Governance project team were invited to to discuss the current consultation on a Code of Practice (CoP) for data collectors at a meeting of the Institutional Group on Statistics, which brings together the Scottish Funding Council and Scottish providers to discuss data collection and analysis issues.

This kind of engagement is incredibly important to enrich the outputs of the project. It allows the project team to explain and be challenged, and is an opportunity for the demand-side and supply-side to provide constructive feedback.

With almost all the Scottish providers represented, this was a very collaborative session. Data governance within the HE sector is - and will continue to be - consensual. For data governance to be successful every party needs to understand their role, their obligations, and the way they will be measured. To that end the Collection Governance project has created a set of goals, principles, and a code of practice. The code of practice builds on the existing provider version by extending the principles to a collector specific version.

There was broad support for the concept of applying the principles of honesty, integrity and rigour to both providers and collectors. However, this also triggered a useful debate on how the concept of integrity is harder to define for collectors, especially around the notion of setting metrics not targets. The proposal that all collectors and providers visibly sign-up to and show adherence to the code of practice was strongly supported, although more detail was requested around implementation and what happens if a breach occurs.

We also discussed the proposed approach to capturing and measuring burden through the revised change process. Again, this was well received with both collectors and providers agreeing that the metrics used were focussed on the areas of burden that are both important and reasonably simple to assess.

Consensual governance by its very nature is more about collaborative agreement than responding to ultimatums

All feedback will be collated with responses to the published consultation, and will inform revised codes, principles, and processes.

We finished with a discussion around how can governance be implemented in a way which encourages universal adoption.

Consensual governance by its very nature is more about collaborative agreement than responding to ultimatums. While the Data Landscape Steering Group (DLSG) will be advocating and monitoring the CoPs / Goals, all parties need to make a concerted effort to demonstrate the value of professionalising their data management for individual providers and collectors.

This is a big ask because there are many other priorities and it's not clear what good enough really looks like. We look forward to working with providers and collectors through the Alpha and Beta pilots and the wider Data Futures communication streams on how to ensure adoption benefits both the individual organisation and the sector

Rationalisation and harmonisation of the data landscape, and a strong focus on minimising the burden continue to direct our efforts in the Data Futures programme. Governance is a big part of this, but it's sometimes a hard one to convey from a distance. We're encouraging collectors and providers to participate in the consultation to shape the governance framework we'll be piloting in 2018.

The full consultation can be found here. The consultation closes 18 August.

Alex Leigh

Alex Leigh