With all the excitement of the last few months, you might not have realised that we are finally in the first academic year of a new approach to data collection. The Data Futures project has been a long time coming, with the first working group meeting back in 2017. A great deal has happened since then and – whilst expectations have rolled back from the original vision of a ‘live’ student data system – some significant changes are being made to statutory data returns over the next couple of years. HE providers are now expected to submit data using this new Data Futures approach – whatever part of the UK you are in – so it is vital that you understand what is expected of you and reach out for support if you need it.

In terms of what has changed, first of all the coding manual has fundamentally changed and as well as providers collecting this data for new students they must also backwards map their current student returns to the newdata futures specification. There have been some really fundamental changes to how personal characteristics are captured but handily JISC/HESA have put together this map of changes so you can see what the key differences are. 

As well as a new manual, Jisc has developed a new system (the ‘HDP’) to which providers can upload their returns. It aims to be faster, more intuitive and therefore less burdensome for providers to use. The HDP will open for the 2022/23 collection in March 2023 but if you would like to play around with it to prepare, you can email liaison@hesa.ac.uk or call +44 (0)1242 388 531 and they will be able to help you. 

There is a new submission timetable too:

From 1 August 2022 Data capture and collation
May / June 2022 Online Validation Toolkit (OVT) opens
31 March 2023 HESA Data Platform (HDP) opens
31 May 2023 Send a file to OVT
31 May 2023 Nil-return confirmation
18 August 2023 Interim submission to HDP
18 August to 13 October 2023 Quality assurance period
13 October 2023 Final submission to HDP
20 October 2023 Sign-off

To help you understand what is required of you there is an E-learning site where you can learn about the changes and there are a huge number of resources available to support you from HESA. You can also email liaison@hesa.ac.uk or call +44 (0)1242 388 531 and they will be able to help.

From 24/25 there will also be 2 in-year collections, a reduced data requirement for August 2024 – December 2025 (with a January 2025 sign-off) and a full student data return which covers the period January 2025 – July 2025. Further details will be provided by JISC on this in due course. 

If you would like any additional advice and support from GuildHE please email kate.wicklow@gildhe.ac.uk