HESA Data Futures returns delayed for another year

A programme by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) to change the way Higher Education organisations reports student data, known as HESA Data Futures, is now planned to go live on 2021/22.

Originally due to come into effect from the start of the 2019/20 academic year, complying with Data Futures will mean changes in what we report, how often, and when.

Currently we provide one annual return at the end of each year, which gives us time to collate and correct data retrospectively. Under HESA Data Futures, this will move to three in-year returns, which means we’ll have less time to collate and correct data ahead of each return, so our data will need to be as accurate and up-to-date as possible to minimise the impact on staff of having to produce more returns, more often.

Compliance with HESA data requirements such as Data Futures is a condition of registration with the Office for Students (OfS), which is essential for eligibility for key funding streams and our designation as a university.

Over the last few months, HESA has been revising its plans and had already pushed the new requirements back to 2020/21. Last week, it announced that it would be delayed by a further year, with go-live now expected in 2021/22.

How does this affect the Student Lifecycle Programme?

The University’s HESA Data Futures project team is currently considering the implications of this further delay and will develop a revised plan which continues to prepare us for the change while optimising alignment opportunities with wider SLP developments.

Because we had been working towards a 2019/20, and then a 20/21 go-live, our understanding of what data HESA will require us to provide, and where there are gaps in our current data, is already well-defined. This will help us shape other SLP activities to fit with what HESA expects from the University in future.

Have we wasted our time getting ready for HESA Data Futures?

Absolutely not. The work we’ve been doing has given us valuable insight into how the University gathers and uses data, and having another two years to build on this knowledge will be of great value for both the SLP and the Data Foundations project.

Just because the deadline has changed, that doesn’t mean work will stop. There are still important areas, such as improving data quality, which we can progress in the meantime, and our work has highlighted some areas for improvement which we have plans to address.

No input or contribution is wasted – the delay simply means we’ll be well prepared when HESA sets a definitive date to go live.

What happens now?

The team will report back to the SLP Programme Board and University Change Delivery Group in September on the expected implications and the impact on the project plan; we’ll continue to share any updates as appropriate.

If you have any questions about the change, email the team at HESA@leeds.ac.uk

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