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Beta phase: working across teams

Alpha to Beta blogpost series

“I now have buy-in from my organisation as a result of being part of Alpha, and it's really highlighted and raised awareness, not just at my organisation but in the rest of my part of the sector”.

Data Futures is a change and transformation programme, with a new system, a new data model and a new collection. 

We publish timelines on our Programme page. Key dates are:

  • The Data Futures transition year, 2022/23, will be an annual collection hosted on the HESA Data Platform (HDP) using the Student-Data Futures specification.
  • Data needs to be collected in the new format from 1 August 2022.
  • The HDP will open for the 2022/23 collection in early 2023.

Our aim throughout Alpha and during Beta is to ensure provider readiness, to bring providers with us ahead of go-live and the first collection opening in August 2023. Along the way, we hope to gain valuable insights that will refine the system and any applicable processes. 

During the Alpha phase, HESA colleagues and providers have appreciated the opportunity to connect and share best practice. A lot of feedback from Alpha participants centred on the benefit of seeing the HESA people behind the process, understanding the work we were doing, and how they could have an impact on the preparations:

“I think it's really helped for us to have that influence to say, you know, we're getting all this feedback. We do need to address it, not just wait until it's a problem and then address it to get ahead.”

Breaking down barriers

An additional benefit for participants was understanding how much needed to happen across their internal departments or with colleagues to embed the new understanding they’d gained:

“Getting involved with Beta in any way will be a great way to inform others it can't be done alone…Being a part of Alpha meant that the [internal] project had to kick off, and now we have a few more people involved…We still have people that need to be brought in, and conflicting demands on resources, but now it's not just [one person] carrying the burden of knowing what needs to happen.”

We know our record contacts are the first to be informed of the upcoming changes. Some participants fed back that an ongoing internal issue is presuming the August 2023 first submission is the ‘deadline’ for Data Futures but as one participant said, the deadline is now. If you don’t collect the new data required in August 2022 and if you haven’t put plans in place to collect that data ahead of August 2022, you will not be ready for the first submission.

“…explaining HESA returns to people is that they always think, that's two years off. You get it a lot when you talk about how HESA data feeds into external publications. The next publication, the [collection for that] has already happened to feed into that, so you're already too late.”

Tips for onboarding your team include:

  • Clarify key dates and work back to agree workload and lead times.
  • Schedule online meetings to review milestones or recent sessions.
  • Work through some concepts or activities together.

Schedule contact points

Right now, the requirement for many colleagues to work from home and participate virtually was also flagged during feedback sessions as an unforeseen blessing. The benefits include: no commute, and more opportunity than ever to join or collaborate for an hour on something, than potentially using a working day for a face-to-face session. 

“In [the moderated testing sessions] I watched another colleague do it who's been involved with HESA… The way they approached it…was completely different to how I would have approached it and there were assumptions that they made that I would never have made…And that was really, really interesting.”

“…there's quite a few of us and we split into a technical team and the business team. Sometimes, whichever of us comes along, gets quite a different perspective. And it's always been very helpful, very welcoming”

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.

Key links


Stay informed via the HESA weekly update and Data Futures monthly update. We send both newsletters out to operational contacts, but non-operational colleagues can also sign up for these:

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