The continuing evolution of open data at HESA
As one of HESA’s open data champions, in this blog I outline the next milestone in the transformation of HESA's publications and what this means for the Higher Education Statistics for the UK publication.
Students in HE open data
The 2016/17 Students in Higher Education publication will be released as open data in February 2018 – continuing HESA’s strategy to migrate our current range of data publications to open data, free of charge to users, by 2021. This will replace the student data that was previously available in the Higher Education Statistics for the UK publication.
This ‘National Statistics’ publication includes summary tables from each of our data streams and used to be released as a single publication in late summer. As the same data will now be released via our open data publications as soon as it becomes available, this compendium publication will no longer be necessary. Although we won’t release this as a ‘National Statistics’ output, HESA is still recognised by the UK Statistics Authority as a producer of ‘Official Statistics’ so you know you can trust the integrity of our open data.
Unless otherwise stated all HESA open data is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
The 2016/17 student data will include significant improvements on the previous 2015/16 version, with interactive Google tables – rather than just ‘flat’ spreadsheets – and machine-readable data, in a downloadable CSV format. It’s all designed to make the data more accessible, and useful to all our users.
The HESA open data icon
The 2014/15 Higher Education Statistics for the UK publication was available to buy, and 2015/16 was the first open data release, but was not machine-readable. Working with the ODI, we learned that true open data emphasises the importance of machine-readability, to maximise the opportunities for data to be re-used. So, the 2016/17 statistical publications are the next step in the evolution of making such data open, by default.
Together each open data release will replace the Higher Education Statistics for the UK, whilst providing much more data in each Google table, starting with the student release in February 2018. The SLC, OECD, and ONS data previously contained in the publication, will continue to be signposted from the HESA website, for the benefit of users of this data.
What new open data will be available?
The new data will be published as a set of more than 20 tables on the HESA website and will include students’ level of HE study, mode of study, sex, subject, country of domicile, qualifications obtained, and HE provider type – and much more. We know that the printed Higher Education Statistics for the UK, and last year’s first issue of open data, have been invaluable to staff, students, academic researchers, private companies, professional bodies, government bodies, the media, international governments, and organisations around the world to understand the characteristics of UK HE, and that the new open data will be even more useful in the machine-readable format.
Subscribers and open data
While the interactive and machine-readable open data is available to everyone, HESA subscribers and not-for-profit customers can continue to view and use data via the interactive data visualisations of the Heidi Plus HE business intelligence platform. In addition, my colleagues in the Information services and Analysis teams can provide expert advice to help understanding and application of open data.
The roll-out of open data
The roll-out will continue until 2020, with the release of Staff data in February 2019, Finances publications in March 2019, and Graduate Outcomes (formerly DLHE) in spring 2020 – all of which used to be part of the Higher Education Statistics for the UK publication. On release, we’ll be keen to hear about your experience of using these fully open data publications.
By 2020 all HESA’s current publications will have been made completely accessible as open data, with no barriers to re-use. The end result, we hope, will be innovative new uses of the data to further serve higher education in the UK.
HESA's 2016/17 student publication is released as open data in February 2018, continuing HESA’s strategy to migrate our current range of data publications to open data, free of charge to users, by 2021