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Data Futures update July 2019

On 10 June 2019, the Data Futures Programme Board reviewed the plan for Data Futures, and made decisions relating to the scope and delivery timeframe for Data Futures.

Key decisions

At the June meeting of the Data Futures Programme Board the following recommendations were approved:

  • The Student and AP student collections for 2020/21 will continue using the legacy collection system.

  • In the medium term, the initial teacher training (ITT) collection will be removed from Data Futures and retained as a separate collection.

  • We will run a further design phase to consider the scope and impact of changes required. This phase will inform a decision point regarding the implementation timeframe for in-year discrete collection on Data Futures.

An overview of the factors taken into consideration in this decision, including the challenges and scale of the work on quality assurance, and proposed data model can be found on the Data Futures programme pages on our website.

Areas of change

We are now undertaking a further design phase (from July-September 2019) and through this we will continue to review the system architecture, quality assurance and data flows, as well as the data model. We are mindful of providers making system changes that align with the current Data Futures specification, as well as business processes and data capability improvement work. 

In order to assist providers in determining where they should focus effort, we will shortly be publishing updated specification content on the HESA website. Following feedback on the data model we are working with statutory customers to simplify the model and clarify key concepts. We intend to consult on changes over the coming months to ensure that the data model is capable of capturing the diverse range of provision in the sector. We expect to have the following items published as draft before the end of July:

  • Data specification: update on the areas of the data model which are changing and how. The first consultation will be the details of the change we're proposing on curriculum.
  • Key concepts: definitions of, and our updated approach to in-year collection, and what we mean by discrete collection.
  • Engagement and Project Governance: the revised programme governance, highlighting consultation groups and opportunities to provide feedback.


Given the changes to the data model and the HESA data platform, we are suspending our current Beta phase shortly, and will be communicating with Beta participants. We very much appreciate the contribution and feedback of Beta participants and our Alpha colleagues, which has provided valuable insight for future development and guidance as we refine the data submission process for Data Futures. 

Next steps

The work ahead is significant, not only for HESA but for the sector. Much of the work undertaken to date continues to feed into our activity and we will continue to listen and make use of the expertise and in-depth knowledge available to us across the sector as we proceed with the agreed discrete collection approach. 

We will be providing formal opportunities to engage with the Data Futures programme in due course and in advance of further programme announcements, expected in October.

If you have queries or feedback, please do contact [email protected].


Press Officer