Relevant and Irreverent News

Rather a lot of qualifications

The UK has announced changes to technical education. An article in The Guardian provides details.

One change will be to replace the current 13,000 qualification with 15. Another will be to increase the number of hours students train by 50%.

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.”