Further education is arguably the most multifaceted sector in the UK education landscape. It offers the most varied portfolio of courses and qualifications and is overseen by the greatest number of regulatory and funding bodies, to name but a few of its complexities.
As a result, the data requirements of each institution are varied and can rapidly change. At a basic level, data provides the proof of numbers that enables colleges to secure funding. Yet, it is becoming widely acknowledged by senior leadership that institutions could not function without up-to-date, reliable data. Data sits at the core of college life and is a key part of an institution’s armour for improving student experiences and outcomes. What’s more, data-led organisations tend to remain more competitive in the long-term. Thomas Smith, Head of Professional Services at UNIT-e says, “While data gathering and analysis used to often be regarded as a box ticking exercise, many colleges now realise that solid data gathering helps the success of their institutions.”
In a competitive arena that can see institutions tapping into the same pool of students, protecting market share is crucial. MIS teams are working hard amid this competitive backdrop to stay ahead of the curve, using data to ensure staff understand what needs to be done to keep refining the offer to students.
Producing timely data is essential. Any data that comes through too late means colleges miss the opportunity to carry out real time changes that can make a difference to the student experience. Thomas Smith says: “Data is increasingly becoming the driver of innovation in many colleges. It helps identify trends and potential problems, allowing for early intervention.”
So, how can your college compete? And what should lay at the heart of your data strategy? Firstly, institutions should consider the needs and challenges of the sector and explore how they can be solved efficiently in a way that puts the students first. And secondly, having an accurate student record across your institution should underpin everything that academic, management and support staff do to better engage with the student body. Removing data silos and creating a single source of truth spanning the full student journey means FE institutions can respond to challenges faster through a more strategic view of their data.
For more information about UNIT-e, please visit https://www.ess-unit-e.co.uk/.