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What Will the New OfS Data Strategy Mean for Higher Education?

With the Office for Students’ data strategy set to be published in Autumn 2018, we outline what the OfS regulatory framework already tells us and what can expect from the OfS in the coming months.

The purpose of OfS Data

The Office for Students has made clear its intention to use data and ‘qualitative intelligence’ to fulfil its duties as the sector’s regulator. Data will be used both to inform students on HE provision and also to drive evidence based monitoring of providers.

What can be expected from the OfS Data strategy?

The strategy to be released by December 2018 will provide the guide to how the OfS will use data to perform its regulatory functions. In particular, the strategy is expected to outline how the OfS will engage with the designated data body (DDB), how the OfS will meet the data needs of other organisations and crucially the data requirements the OfS will expect of providers.

How will the OfS use data?

The OfS regulatory framework has outlined an array of data driven-functions within the body. This will include monitoring the sector, establishing core performance indicators and supporting improved access and participation for students entering higher education. The OfS will be also be using data in its role in operating the Teaching Excellence Framework.

The OfS has also committed to making reasoned and measured used of data which only asks of providers what is essential. In addition to data return, the OfS will make use of collaborative working with HESA and other data sources within the sector, as well as data linking for example to school data.

What type of data sources?

It is anticipated the OfS will use an array of datasets in the delivery of its role including annual surveys, big data sources, existing data collections from the sector and targeted data requests to providers that will guide the monitoring of standards. For HE providers it will be vital to understand the type of requests that the OfS will be making within the new strategy and how they can prepare for data collection.

What data will be published by the OfS?

The OfS has made a commitment to enhancing transparency and understanding on all HE providers in order to inform student choice. In particular the OfS will be publishing data in the future on access and participation across the sector and has committed to released data on senior staff renumeration in December 2018. This of course, will be in addition to its core function of monitoring the performance of the sector.

With the OfS data strategy launching by the end of this year, all HE providers should be prepared for coming updates in the way they collect, use and report their data.