Building digital tools for prospective students

The Higher Education Open Data Competition

Students are more discerning than ever. They are becoming increasingly vocal about the quality and value they want from their chosen degree and university, and this is understandable given that they are committing time and money to their future education. You can't put a figure on the life experience you get at university or the life-long bonds forged on those nights out at the student union. But what about the value of your degree?

On 7 June, Sam Gyimah, Minister for Universities, delivered this speech about the 'Age of the Student' and announced the Higher Education Open Data Competition. Opening on 25 June, the competition seeks digital tools and solutions that will use Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) data, alongside other open data, to help students feel more confident and informed in their choices of course and university. LEO data details the earnings of graduates five years after they completed their course, covering hundreds of courses from universities across the UK.

This isn't about putting a monetary value on a course in the form of predicted future salaries. However, it is one of the most common questions that students ask about their potential higher education choices - what will the future look like for me?

At ODI Leeds, we advocate for open data - its use, re-use, sharing, and publishing. We will be working with the Department for Education to help share the competition throughout our network. We will also be hosting a series of events for people to find out more about the competition and the data that is being made available for it.

The warm-up events will take place throughout England - Newcastle, London, and Manchester - and are an opportunity to ask questions, make suggestions for related datasets, etc. After the warm-up events, a full-day innovation event will be held in Leeds, giving people the chance to test their ideas with an engaged audience and seek help from the data-savvy attendees before submitting to the competition.

This competition is all about giving students more confidence in their higher education choices through better information about university and course outcomes. Students want to feel that they are getting 'value' for their efforts so this is a prime opportunity to fully explore what that means in higher education.

Higher Education Open Data Competition graphic
Credit: Amy Evans