Where to the Single Data Return?

The greybeards amongst us may recall the arrival of the Single Data Return (SDR) in 2000. The introduction to an early SDR Manual stated “The Tertiary Education Review white paper introduced in 2000 the concept of an SDR which incorporates all the information required [my emphasis] for the purposes of funding students as well as information required for statistical reporting purposes.” Note the “all the information required” claim.

The latest SDR Manual makes an even bolder claim. In this manual you can read the following. “The SDR provides one central point for the collection, processing and delivery of information from TEOs to education agencies.”

Each claim is nonsense as anyone who has filled in TEC Excel returns or the Ministry’s RS20, well knows.

Since 2000 there have been recurrent initiatives to collect data using more modern technology than text files. There was TEC’s Electronic Receipting System of 2006 (abandoned in 2012), and the TEC’s Tertiary Learner Event Collection (TLEC) started in 2011 and abandoned by 2014 after expenditure in the millions of dollars.

More recently the Unfunded International Provider return (UIP) was initiated in 2014 with a goal of full implementation by July 2015. It’s nearly mid-2017 now and there are still providers who have not made the return. Meanwhile well over a million dollars has been spent.

An interesting feature of the UIP has been that it was a joint venture of the NZQA and the Ministry. TEC seemed to have no involvement.

So the SDR sails ever onwards with endless tweaks, and ever increasing compliance costs for providers. The most recent change is supposed to come into effect with the August 2017, and not as originally scheduled in March 2016. I suspect, though, that the change won’t be implemented in August because there are still too many loose ends in TEC’s documentation.

Meanwhile I understand that TEC is once more entering into the fray, with a scoping project for an SDR replacement. It will be nice if it happens. I hope they have deep pockets.