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Data Futures – programme update

Following the March announcement that Data Futures will not be going live in 2019/20 a revised direction for the programme has been approved by the Data Futures Programme Board.

After analysis of feedback and programme activity HESA has recommended a move from continuous data collection to three discrete data collections a year.

The recommended new direction was approved at the 18 April Data Futures Programme Board meeting. This change would simplify the data model with HE providers submitting data that is in scope for a reference period, allowing some data and relationship elements of the model to be removed. 

We acknowledge that this will mean rework across the sector as well as at HESA. However, we have agreed with all parties that this revised approach for the programme should be put in place, to deliver against agreed requirements, within an acceptable timeframe and cost envelope. 

Background to the decision 

Data Futures began in 2016 with the aim of delivering a future-proof, flexible data collection capability to which a range of collection policies could be applied – primarily, those of HESA’s Statutory Customers, but also eventually extending to those of Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRBs). 

As the project has developed it has become apparent that the overarching objectives of Data Futures should be delivered in a simplified way which has a higher likelihood of delivering high-quality data within an acceptable timeframe. 

Statutory Customers have confirmed that their requirements have not changed since programme inception, and that 3 full data snapshots a year are sufficient to meet their needs of high-quality data in a much more timely manner than can be provided currently which typically has a 14-month time lag.

In coming to this revised approach, we have liaised with key sector groups regarding the relative burden and complexity of three collections a year compared to continuous collection and quality assurance (QA). We will continue this close dialogue in the coming weeks to ensure Data Futures delivers on its objectives while minimising burden on HE providers. 

Next steps

We are providing an early indication of the change of approach to Data Futures to allow us to engage with HE providers over the coming weeks. Ensuring that our revised programme deliverables and timescales meet the needs of HE providers is paramount to us. 

We will be consulting with HE providers, representative groups (including but not limited to UUK, GuildHE, IHEHESPA, AHUA, SROC, UCISA) as well as working closely with Statutory Customers to provide a plan to the Data Futures Programme Board in June. This will include a consultation regarding the data model which we expect to be based on the current data futures specification

Feedback from HE providers has consistently sought more certainty in programme timelines and phases. Data Futures will be re-launched in the summer with a clear published timetable.

We are very grateful to everyone who provided feedback. The thorough and expert responses were invaluable to ensure a comprehensive analysis of the options as presented to the Programme Board.  

The Data Futures beta trial will continue, but we will review the activities that are likely to be required and helpful. More information will be sent to beta participants in the coming weeks. 

Further updates of plans for Data Futures will be announced in the coming weeks and published on the HESA website as supporting content and resources become available.

Please contact us if you have any queries - email [email protected]  or phone +44 (0) 1242 211 144.


Press Officer