However, there is an opportunity for UK HE to do even better: by using data. Research gathered by the Higher Education Commission showed that universities are in need of guidance on better data management and require support to help their staff and systems capitalise on all the benefits that good data analytics can offer. Tech companies can now help by providing new analytics systems, training and software to make the most of data.
On Tuesday 26th January, the Higher Education Commission is launching its inquiry report, From Bricks to Clicks: the potential of data analytics in Higher Education in Parliament. The report explores what the data revolution could mean for HE and students.
Inquiry co-chair, Lord Norton, said ‘the Higher Education Commission saw an opportunity to investigate the state of data affairs in HE and embarked on a 10 month inquiry last year. Covering the effect that data and analytics can have for university students, higher education institutions and the HE sector as a whole, we felt that we should focus specifically on the student experience angle as this hasn’t been looked into before.’
Higher education is now focusing on a more cost-effective student (and customer) focused model. Data presents many opportunities for the big data sector and HE analytics should be a cornerstone to that.
HE is data rich but institutions are not making the most of analytics, nor are their workforces data literate. The Commission learned that in order to continue providing world leading education, institutions must ensure that digital literacy, digital capability and good data management and mining policies are a central part of long term HE strategies.
The Commission found that the HE sector can lead the way in big data analytics, so long as this is done with student consent and robust safeguards. Data will help institutions to improve student retention, better target student support, and develop teaching and learning across the sector.
To launch this report to data experts, academics and HE institutions, co-chairs Lord Norton and Sarah Porter of the Higher Education Commission are holding a breakfast in the House of Lords from 8.30-10am with special guest speakers who will discuss the potential that data holds for HE and students. Speakers will include; Dr Paul Feldman, Chief Executive, Jisc; Jacqui Henderson CBE, Policy Connect; and Anthony Walters, Policy Manager for Western Europe, ACCA