Infrastructure > Cloud

Higher Education Statistics Agency plans data collection shake-up

David Bicknell Published 12 April 2016

HESA issues tender for IT services worth £3.5m-£7.5m over 14 years to support design and transformation of data futures programme


The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) wants to "redesign and transform" its data collection and dissemination processes.

The agency, which collects data from around 260 higher education (HE) providers across the UK, is generally regarded as a global leader in HE data collection and dissemination.

It provides data to UK government and HE funding bodies to support their work in regulating and funding HE providers and information derived from its data is published as official statistics for use by a wide range of organisations and individuals.

Now HESA has issued a tender looking for IT services supporting its data futures programme including data specification, system design, implementation and integration of the solution. The suggested contract value is between £3.5m and £7.5m over 14 years.

In the tender, HESA says its vision is for a "modernised and more efficient approach to collecting data that is able to respond to a wide range of data users. We want to create more relevant, reliable, comprehensive and timely information about HE for the benefit of the sector, and to deliver this in more efficient ways which reduce the burden on providers."

Currently HESA operates 12 data collection streams which each have their own bespoke systems, processes and data model.

In the tender, HESA says it wants to appoint a supplier that will:

i) Redesign the way HESA specifies, collects, stores, analyses and disseminates data relating to students undertaking higher education (including personal, subject, course and module data); and

ii) Deliver the new collection system for HESA to operate (dubbed the 'Part 1 Requirement') with the procurement also including some 'business as usual' services (labelled the 'Part 2 Requirement').

It adds that it is looking for a flexible and scalable solution that can be configured in the future, by HESA, to support all its collection streams. HESA said the solution will need to be cloud based to provide sufficient scalability.

Under the Part 1 requirement, HESA's selected supplier will be required to provide programme and project management, including the management of any subcontractors it requires to deliver the project; data governance design, including the capabilities required to effectively govern the data language, data enrichment, quality assurance and master data; and data specification and system design, including the capability to design and manage specifications for data model definitions and interfaces (for data providers and data customers).

Part 1 also includes business process design for HESA's data collection and dissemination processes (including quality assurance and data enrichment); solution design and development including specification of the application, data and technical architectures, application and solution development, cloud infrastructure and data storage (including warehouse or an alternative methodology).

Alpha piloting of initial concepts/prototypes will take place in the 2017/18 academic year, with beta piloting following in the 2018/19 academic year, the tender said.

Part 1 further includes provision of a test environment in which HE providers, student information system providers and data customers can test their data systems and processes, and implementation and integration of the solution with full handover to HESA at the end of the 2019/20 collection cycle. This will include the extraction and transfer of data from HESA's existing systems into the new solution.

The Part 2 requirement covers hosting of the solution on HESA's behalf by the supplier for a period following completion of the Part 1 requirement, with an option for the contract to be extended for support and maintenance services.

HESA said there will be an option to extend the contract by up to five years in respect of any additional hosting, licensing, support and maintenance required, with further individual year extensions also possible for up to five years.

The tender document said it envisages six candidates being invited to submit a tender, with the time limit for receipt of tenders or requests to participate being May 9. The estimated dispatch date of invitations to tender or to participate is May 20.

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