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Beta phase: specification and data model

Alpha to Beta blogpost series

This is the final part of a series of blogposts aimed at those joining the Beta phase, which we’ve prepared in discussion with Alpha participants. All quotes are from Alpha participants. We hope to encourage those still considering joining to understand how they can participate and the benefits it could bring to their organisation.

We’ve ensured the blogposts are agnostic of nation or provision, as a key theme that came out of our discussions is the commonality between providers as they prepare for Data Futures.

"[online working] has opened up a brand-new world… a lot more engagement. There are people who, at my organisation for example, who have never been to anything that I've got running, are [now] coming to different things where they just never had opportunity before"

The Student record (Beta) – 21056 coding manual is now live. This is the coding manual that providers will use during the Beta phase.

We appreciate it may seem a daunting task to assess your existing methodology for collecting and submitting data so here are four top tips to help. 

Don’t wait for your situation to be ‘perfect’ to engage with the Beta phase

Engage with the data migration specification

Alpha participants have found the data migration specification invaluable to understand, and then embed, the new model and collection requirements within their teams:

"When I saw that [data migration] document for the first time, it was like a light bulb. They're absolutely amazing [and] allow you to go back and look visually and understand, to see just how much work you actually have to do"

We shared some tips on how best to use the data migration specification in the November Data Futures monthly update, and asked for feedback, too:

  • The purpose of the migration specifications is to help you plan for and navigate the migrated data. Do you have any constructive feedback on the structure of the documents?
  • Look at the fields within different entities and flag any that don’t make sense to you.
  • Explore the mapping of values within each of the fields. Are there any you think need realigning based on your knowledge of the data?

Don’t wait until you have a full specification to join Beta

Some providers may be experiencing new requirements, such as collecting module data, or changes with upgrading their system, or even staffing changes. Above all, we would recommend don’t wait for your situation to be ‘perfect’ to engage with the Beta phase:

"[Some colleagues] say, the deadline isn't until August 2023. Why are we doing this now? and it's because we've got an academic year to do it, but we still have to make sure we've got the data of that academic year, so you’re working back on those timelines"

Stay informed of coding manual updates

We have now published the Data Futures 2022/23 (C22056): Notification of changes to personal characteristics data

Key considerations

  • Do you need to make any changes to fields in your student registration forms or other materials?
  • Do you have an in-house student records software system and do your colleagues know about these updated requirements? 


View the Notification of changes and consultation outcomes. The annex from the consultation has now been updated with the outcomes. This shows current field specifications and maps them to the new proposals.

We send out coding manual and other specification updates in the HESA weekly update and Data Futures monthly update. Both newsletters are sent to operational contacts, but non-operational colleagues can also subscribe:
Sign up for the HESA weekly update

Sign up for the Data Futures monthly update

Make use of our online learning

We have a suite of e-learning dedicated to the Student - Data Futures specification, including a video demo of the Beta HESA Data Platform (HDP).

Check out the blogpost from our Collections Development Manager, Rachel Wilkes, Preparing for Beta: the Data Futures specification team's top five activities for useful insights into how one of our teams is getting ready, which you may want to review against your own plans.

Above all, we are here to assist and help where necessary, so please do contact [email protected] if you need clarification or further information. We look forward to working with you during the Beta phase.

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