April Single Data Return

 This post was edited on the afternoon of 7 April to reflect the fact that SDR dates had been changed at the last minute by the MoE.

It’s that time of year again. The April SDR has an extract date of 15 April and originally had to be submitted in the period from 16 April until 29 April inclusive. MoE and TEC seem to have remembered at the last minute that 29 April is a Saturday and that both Easter and ANZAC day fall in the submission period. Earlier today the period for submission was changed to be from 10 to 28 April.

Here are a couple of other things to think about in preparing for the SDR round.

1.      You must ensure that any qualification or course for which data is being reported has been approved by TEC.

2.      If you have not yet increased tuition and compulsory course cost fees for 2017, now is the time to do so up to the permissible maximum of 2%.

3.      If for any reason you need to re-submit a December 2016 SDR you must do so (with TEC’s permission) prior to 16 April.

4.      The April SDR is you last chance to submit 2016 course and qualification completions for inclusion in the published 2016 Education Performance Indicators.

On a lighter (sadder?) note this is a record year for TEC and MoE’s (mis)management of the SDR. It is the first time you will be going into the exercise without knowing from the STEO web site that your student management system has been certified. Also the SDR Manual applicable to the return was only updated on 7 April, replacing the December 2016 manual which contained misleading information.

  [contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

New Models of Tertiary Education

There can’t be many people who can honestly claim to have read the Productivity Commission’s new magnum opus “New Models of Tertiary Education”. I’m certainly not one, but I did search the document for any evidence that the Commission has recognised that inadequate and sometimes inaccurate data is being collected by the agencies responsible for managing the tertiary education sector.

I did find the following comment which quickened my pulse, especially the last sentence. “Good quality assurance and good information both become more important in a tertiary education system with fewer controls on inputs, more at stake for providers, and more empowered student consumers. It is important that agency roles and responsibilities in these regards are clear.”

And I did find some mention of using data analytics to trigger academic and pastoral interventions, and making smarter use of data especially in relation to collecting increasingly reliable and relevant performance data. All good stuff, but I searched in vain for mention of a proper replacement of our old friend the Single Data Return.

This elephant still sits stubbornly in the room meaning, ironically, that the Commission itself would not have had all the information it required to do its job.

Indicative Single Data Return

The Indicative Single Data Return (SDR) is due to be reported via STEO by Wednesday 8 March with a nominal extract date of 1 March. The return is to include enrolments and student data for all enrolments in your student management system whether the students have started their studies or not. In theory, then, if you were to have processed enrolments for a second semester these records should be included in the return.

No outcome data is reported via the Indicative SDR.

At the time that the Indicative return was proposed there was much debate about the return date, largely focused on whether the data being collected would really be useful to “to give early indicators of demand shifts and trends that may impact vote management and policy impacts.”

Students at most TEIs are able to cancel or change their enrolments well into March. For many PTEs obtaining NZQA and TEC approvals for new qualifications has been a lengthy process with delays that mean enrolments cannot be processed until after 8 March.

So is the Indicative return a useful policy tool or just another compliance burden dreamed by policy analysts?

Welcome to Mercury Advice

I will be posting periodically brief articles based on material published by the tertiary agencies and my own observations of working in the sector. Hopefully the articles will either amuse or inform you. Please let me know.

Let’s start with something that is, if anything, rather sad. You may be aware that it is possible to add a person to the National Student Index (NSI) and assign to them a gender of “U” for “Unknown”. Similarly Internal Affairs provides for three genders to be used on passports, with “X” being “Indeterminate/Unspecified”.

A problem arises when you have to report gender via the Single Data Return, which provides only for “M” and “F”. But, in order for a student record to be reported successfully through the SDR, the gender value in the SDR file must match the gender value in the NSI. If the values don’t match there will be an SDR validation error and you will not be able to submit your SDR.

When asked about the problem the Ministry of Education came up with a novel solution.

If the leaner prefers to use X [i.e. “U”] gender, as workaround providers will have to change the  learner’s gender to either Male or Female in NSI and also use the same gender accordingly for SDR reporting.”