The following describes some blockers, taken from the HEDIIP Student Data Collection Review, to improved data capability across the HE sector.
Lack of common data definitions/language
It is generally recognised that the absence of common data definitions and language is a serious barrier to standardisation and rationalisation, and overcoming this barrier is widely regarded as a prerequisite for change.
Specificity of data requirements
Data collectors often report that their requirements are of such a specialist nature that they are doubtful as to whether standardisation and rationalisation can be achieved. There is also often a reluctance to make changes to existing relationships between collectors and academic departments.
Data required for different purposes
Data collectors frequently reference their organisations mission or objectives, regulatory frameworks, or the requirements mandated by their owning or member bodies as driving the specific collections they make.
Lack of knowledge of other collections
This is the obverse of transparency and consistency in terms of benefits and, as referenced under data management and governance, is seen as a barrier to progress in standardisation and rationalisation.
Trust/loss of ownership
This is most frequently referenced in relation to academic departments in providers not wishing to let go of the ownership of the data – or perhaps more accurately, ownership of the interpretation of the data.
‘Faculties have concern about loss of control, different needs…’ (NHS);
‘Parochialism –it’s my data’
To a lesser extent there are some concerns about unwillingness to share data between collectors or use other data sources: ‘trust that other Provider’s data is of good enough quality, timely and accurate’ and about loss of control by PSRBs: ‘PSRB loss of control over data definitions i.e. collections, timing’.
Capacity/resources for change
This is referenced frequently by sector organisations.
Time/capacity to implement
Easier to stick to old ways of doing things than spend time learning/applying something new; time – organisations very busy running their processes and don’t have time to share data, rethink definitions etc.
Timeliness of data
Closely related to loss of trust, this is a concern mostly amongst PSRBs that centralisation or a move to alternative sources of data would lead to a deterioration of both currency and relevance.
While there is commentary on technical capability and there are clear concerns about shortfalls in this area there is surprisingly little on security concerns. The absence of sector commentary on security may in itself be indicative of the need to focus more on this area.