TAKE2 and the Single Data Return

I have written several times recently about the need to replace your Student Management System (SMS). From the information given to me by my clients, it is quite clear that AdaptIT will cease to support the Take2 SMS from the end of 2019. Interestingly the most recent communication notifying this date came from Wisenet – not from AdaptIT itself. Wisenet is an Australian company recently purchased by AdaptIT, a South African company. Wisenet sells a student management system.

The cessation of support from the end of 2019 is a rather brutal decision because, as you know (but Wisenet seems not to know) for the 2019 year, the final reporting via the SDR will not be complete until after the April 2020 SDR round. That is your last chance to report 2019 course and qualification completions. The fact is also, that the December SDR 2019 cannot be reported before 1 January 2020.

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On a related topic earlier in the year I sent the following request for information to TEC.

Please can you provide me with a brief response to the following questions?

  • Will the format of the Single Data Return (SDR) be changing in 2020, by which I mean will it cease to be the periodic submission of a set of five text files?
  • Will the data items currently included in the SDR remain the same in 2010, by which I mean will any new items be included or any existing items removed?

After a number of reminders, I finally got half an answer on 30 July.

TEC wrote “There are no changes to the file format expected for 2020, that will come in 2021. We cannot guarantee there will be no changes to data as we will need to respond to changes in policy etc as they arise.”

So, the good news is that the file format will not change. The not so good news is that TEC doesn’t know (or isn’t telling us) whether data will change. Over the last few years existing blank SDR fields have been recycled to accommodate new data items – for example in 2019 two fields in the Student (STUD) file are being used to accommodate data relevant to Fees-Free.

Historically new fields have been added to the SDR files by tacking them on the end of each record – for example the EMB_LIT_NUM field was added on to the Course Register (CREG) record in 2010.

Now, here’s the thing. TEC should release an updated SDR Manual soon if they want to be considered to be a halfway responsible agency capable of providing data to government. The SDR Manual for 2019 was released in October 2018. The 2017 SDR Manual was released in December 2016. Unfortunately, and with characteristic disregard as to compliance costs, TEC did not release the 2018 Manual until February 2018.

I think – and this is my personal opinion – that the highlighted words above may be the clue as to when we will hear about changes to data. It appears that PTEs and Wānanga are not – as yet – directly affected by the review of vocational education (ROVE). Indirectly, though, they may be, because even TEC would not be thoughtless enough to mandate one type of reporting for NZIST and another for the PTEs and Wānanga. In short, if the current reporting mechanism (i.e. the SDR) is to be replaced for NZIST that mechanism will also be applied to PTEs and Wānanga.

Given that the full process towards putting in place the changes of the ROVE will not be complete for some years, and the new funding system won’t be in place to 2021, it seems unlikely that the SDR will see substantially different data being reported in 2020. That won’t happen until 2021.

If there is indeed no change to the format or data being collected in the SDR in 2020 then Take2 users will be very fortunate. Their SMS will continue to chug along for another year, giving them time to make a considered and far less pressured choice of a replacement SMS.

And of course, TEC will be very fortunate because they will still get reliable SDR data.