From Bricks to Clicks: New inquiry report explores what student data will mean for higher education.

The UK’s higher education (HE) system is one of the best known in the world for high quality education, student experience and world class research. But there is an opportunity for UK HE to do even better: by using 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 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.” It’s clear that higher education is at a point of change, with fiscal changes that are leading to an increasing focus upon a more student (and customer) focused model. Data presents many opportunities for the HE sector to build on its already world-renowned status and analytics should be a cornerstone to that. Students are already leaving ‘digital footprints’ across campus and virtual learning environments.

This refers to the valuable data that institutions are able to collect from students on where they visit, what they download, and how they work. They swipe into buildings, access library records, and download e-books and lecture recordings; this holds valuable information for universities who are looking to improve the students’ experience and learning.HE is data rich, but institutions are not making the most of the opportunities that data analytics present, nor is their workforce data literate. Institutions must ensure that digital literacy, digital capability and good data management strategies are a central part of their long term plans. This will help institutions to provide world-class teaching and support to students in the 21st century.

The Commission found that the HE sector can lead the way in data collection, use and optimisation, 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. By understanding data and the use of data analytics institutions can ensure that students are better taught and supported throughout their courses. 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. Co-Chairs:

  • Lord Norton of Louth
  • Sarah Porter

Speakers include:

  • Dr Paul Feldman, Chief Executive, Jisc
  • Jacqui Henderson CBE, Policy Connect
  • Anthony Walters, Policy Manager for Western Europe, ACCA

If you would like to attend this launch, please respond to xanthe.shacklock@policyconnect.org.uk / 0207 202 8587.

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