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Student data: actions to ensure data quality for statutory funding bodies

We sent the following email to Accountable Officers and Heads of Provider at all nations on Tuesday 30 April.

Please note: the link to 'Key deadlines for 2023/24 Student Data collection (23056)' is a document summarising the key information, deadlines and resources for senior colleagues. It does not replace or change anything in the 23056 coding manual data collection schedule, 23056 Support guides and Training and other resources that should be used by operational contacts for submitting data.

I am writing to update you on the most recent HESA Student data collection and the key actions and deadlines your institution will need to meet to fulfil your statutory reporting requirements ahead of the next HESA Student data collection.

Update on Data Futures

The changes that were made last year to the HESA Student collection, commonly known as ‘Data Futures’ were large and complex. They involved the development of a new collection system, the HESA Data Platform, to enable the move to a new data model. The way data were collected had not changed substantially for more than 20 years and the model no longer reflected the range of provision on offer in institutions, nor was it fit for the current regulatory or funding landscapes.
HESA co-created the new data model together with the sector, regulators, and funding bodies across the UK. We understand the new data model imposed challenges on everyone including staff skills and resource, student record system issues and maturity of data management systems. The new data model required significant changes to the way institutions collect and manage their student data. Jisc also faced challenges completing the development work, and experienced funding constraints, late specification changes and a large volume of issues during the final stages. 
We would like to thank you and your teams for the hard work and dedication needed to implement the new data model. We know this has not been easy. We have listened to colleagues from across the sector who have fed back on the challenges of last year’s collection and the impact it had on them. It was not the experience we would have hoped for in the first year of the new HESA Data Platform and we apologise for the difficulties this caused.

Publication of last year’s student data

As you may know, Jisc has a range of statutory duties including to the Office for Students and the other funders in the devolved nations (SFC, HEFCW and DfENI). We have completed our quality assessment of the data and have established that it is fit for our purposes. We are in discussion with statutory customers about next steps, including publication, and expect to make an announcement on our upcoming data releases webpage imminently.

Improving the system and learning from feedback

The Office for Students and other funding bodies are conducting an independent review of ‘Data Futures’, but this has not yet begun. We have conducted our own internal review and sought feedback from providers. We are enormously grateful for the detailed and constructive feedback we have received both via survey responses and in-person events held across the UK throughout March.  

We have used our own review and provider feedback to prioritise our efforts this year. A clear message was received about the stability of the system and the need to minimise data changes. These are our focus areas for this year. 

Getting ready for the Student data collection (23056) this summer

While we are confident that the HESA Data Platform (HDP) will be much improved from last year, the nature of the issues experienced last year means that we do not believe this year's collection will be totally issue free. The list of additional features and requests we have received from the sector is also long and we will not be able to deliver them all. In addition, we understand that some institutions are still struggling to embed data model changes, while others have local student record system and other challenges.  

If your institution has any concerns about supplying data this year, or what is required, including the 21 August Interim submission deadline, please ensure that you contact our Liaison team. We are ready to help and support (further details are below). We encourage your team to prepare for the data submission as early as possible. 

This year data must be submitted, in final form, by 25 October 2024. Your sign off, as Accountable Officer is required by 1 November 2024. The HESA Data Platform will be open and ready to accept data from the week commencing 6 May 2024 so that we can work with you towards these deadlines. Tools, such as the ‘Online Validation Tool’, have been available since January to help with getting data right. Although we are pleased that over 25% of providers are already engaging with this tool, we would like all providers to be engaging with both the Online Validation Tool and the HESA Data Platform in the coming months.  

The Student Return remains a statutory requirement and early engagement with these tools will be important for enabling high quality and timely returns. Further information on the timetable and range of support we provide is available in Key deadlines for 2023/24 Student Data collection (23056).

We would like to thank you once again for your ongoing support with this essential work. Please continue to support your colleagues during this summer's data collection, and encourage the use, adoption and engagement with the Key deadlines for 2023/24 Student Data collection (23056), and resources and support highlighted. As ever, colleagues in Jisc are more than happy to help you in any way they can.


Press Officer