Don't be daunted by data

Colleges are running courses all the time, which means there is a lot of data to deal with, but it doesn’t have to be daunting

When it comes to a college or university website, data integration is a huge factor to consider. For one thing, colleges are running courses all the time – not just from September to July – which means there is a huge amount of data to deal with, from the course administration system to the student registration system.

In a lot of cases, the information that colleges need to gather isn’t just for their own records, some of it is statutory data which they are required to collect; for example, on the number of international students they host to how inclusive they are. For many universities, particularly the top ones, there is also growing pressure for them to broaden the range of students they accept.

On 15 July 2019, the Universities Minister, Chris Skidmore, visited Birkbeck, University of London and spoke about opening up access to university. He explained that Birkbeck has always been one step ahead when it comes to opening up access to university, with the first female students admitted in 1830, a good 40 years before either Oxford or Cambridge opened their doors to women.

“I want to see how we can continue to bring down barriers to access and enable more people to reap the benefits of our world-class universities and colleges,” Mr Skidmore said. “As well as offering a range of world-leading higher education courses, we’d like to ensure that vocational and technical training options of equal quality are available across the entire country, so that all 18-year-olds are able to select the pathway that best suits their aspirations and potential.”

Mr Skidmore also added that there was cause for celebration, as there has been a record number of 18-year-old applicants to higher education from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

In 2018, for the first time ever, over 20% of English 18-year-olds living in the lowest participation neighbourhoods entered higher education.
“That’s testament to the great efforts made by many universities to attract disadvantaged students,” says Mr Skidmore. “I want to see a country where the same opportunities are open to everyone irrespective of where they live.”

He continued: “We cannot offer just generic support. What we need is support tailored to different student groups – including commuter students, postgraduate students, mature part-time students, international students, care leavers and estranged students, disabled students, students from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds, and students from the poorest parts of our society. And let’s not forget the need to support the inclusion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT+) students.”

“In this day and age, nobody deserves to get left behind. And nobody should feel a university education isn’t for them just because of their background or circumstance.”

Mr Skidmore than went on to talk about data, and said: “Over recent years, this government has been concerned with increasing the collection and publication of data in the sector – not to increase bureaucracy as many of the critics would imply, but to tell us more about those areas which are in need of improvement, and to highlight the progress that is being made. Ensuring we are using the right data, measuring the right things, and using data in the right way is a key priority for me.”

This highlights the need for colleges to collect data and for their websites to be an integral part of this process, but this data needs to be managed and synchronised. The team which manages a college needs to be sure that people can easily find and apply for the courses which are right for them and that the data about those enrolling is collected correctly, stored in a way which ticks all the boxes as far as data protection is concerned and is ready to be reported to the relevant authorities.

If you work in education and data integration is giving you a headache, then give us a call at Lake Solutions. We are experienced in dealing with websites for educational establishments and can support you through the process. Please do get in touch today.

 

 

Article Details

Ian Jepp
28 August 2019