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Graduate Outcomes: Building the collection

Graduate Outcomes

There has been significant recent discussion among policy makers and the media about graduate outcomes and the value of higher education. It is vital that these discussions are underpinned by robust and comprehensive data about the activities and views of graduates.

To ensure HESA provides high-quality data on graduates, we have conducted a review of the information we currently collect. This review has led to the creation of a new survey: the Graduate Outcomes survey.

To ensure HESA provides this high-quality data on graduates, we have conducted a review of the information we currently collect. This review has led to the creation of a new survey: the Graduate Outcomes survey. This survey will contact graduates around 15 months after they complete their studies, and will ask questions which allow us to gather meaningful and rigorous insights into post-study pathways. We are currently preparing the procurement specification to appoint a central contractor to run this survey.

The new survey will require providers to collect accurate and comprehensive contact details from their graduates. We have today published an initial draft of the data specification for the collection of these details. In this blog, we wanted to discuss our approach to developing the Graduate Outcomes survey, and explain what we mean when we talk about a ‘draft’ specification.

Defining the business processes

As two of HESA’s Heads of Software Development, we have been tasked with defining the business processes associated with Graduate Outcomes.

As two of HESA’s Heads of Software Development, we have been tasked with defining the business processes associated with Graduate Outcomes. This work includes:

  • Developing an understanding of user requirements
  • Determining the validation processes
  • Producing a logical data model
  • Ascertaining how data will flow between providers, HESA and the survey contractor.

There are significant challenges facing us in this work. We are defining an entirely new collection which – while not as substantial as other collections – includes new requirements for information which HESA has not previously collected. We also need to ensure that the specification meets current and future needs, and does not place undue burden on collectors.

we are adopting an iterative and incremental development approach, which involves us continually refining and enhancing our processes

To overcome these challenges, we are adopting an iterative and incremental development approach, which involves us continually refining and enhancing our processes.

Collecting contact details: A draft specification

HESA has today published a draft specification for the collection of contact details, which exemplifies our iterative development process. This draft specification reveals our current understanding of what the data requirements and specifications are. But it is an evolving specification which is subject to refinement and expansion as we continue our development work.

HESA has today published a draft specification for the collection of contact details, which exemplifies our iterative development process.

The fact that this specification is evolving means that it is not yet fit to be used to design the systems needed to collect and store contact details, and for this reason we have not yet published the schema. But it does allow you to use it to reflect on internal processes and identify the challenges your provider might face.

Next steps

The first meeting of the Graduate Outcomes steering group took place on the 25 September. Their input is playing a crucial role in HESA’s on-going work to implement Graduate Outcomes. We are currently digesting their comments as we continue work on defining the survey before the start of procurement.

Our next major release of information by the end of the year will include:

  • A revised specification for the collection of contact details
  • The Graduate Outcomes logo and brand materials.
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Lorraine Pearce

Lorraine Pearce

Head of Software Development
Kevin Wise

Kevin Wise

Head of Software Development