Creating *Valid* Dummy Data

As this project is ‘piggybacking’ off another project being carried out in the university, we will be taking most of our data from another system that is in the process of being implemented. As such, it has been necessary to create some dummy datasets so that I can continue with this project while the other system is being implemented. Using data that has been taken from various sources, I have been able to create dummy data that resembles the data that will be made available through KIS and the XCRI-CAP feed.

At this stage, the data that I am dealing with focuses around 5 awards offered at the university, rather than trying to encompass every award currently offered. To try and get a grasp of how this information is presented in different departments and areas of the university, I have selected a range of awards, rather than focus on a specific school or college within the university. Hopefully this will mean that there won’t be too many surprises when I can get all of the ‘real’ data.

As part of the process of validating the data that I have collected, I’ve been using Craig Hawker’s XCRI-CAP 1.2 validator, which has proved invaluable in ensuring that the ‘test’ XCRI feed that I’ve been working with is actually valid, again reducing the amount of surprises I should get when I can use the full XCRI feed being made available by the university.

On top of the data being made available through the KIS and XCRI feed, the implementation of a new ‘Academic Programme Management System’ means that I should be able to easily get data regarding the modules/units that make up each of the courses offered by the university. This, in combination with the data available in the KIS and XCRI, should be more than enough data to produce services that are useful to students and present the information in meaningful ways.

Next step, the APIs to get at the data and documentation!!!!!!!

Key Information Sets (KIS) – A Summary!

One of the collections of data that is going to become available during the course of this project is the Key Information Sets (KIS) data. To quote HEFCE:

Key Information Sets are comparable sets of standardised information about undergraduate courses. They are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students and will be published ‘in context’ on the web-sites of universities and colleges.

As part of our wider work with partner organisations in response to the increasing importance of information about higher education, universities and colleges will be expected to publish these information sets on their web-sites from September 2012.

Students will be able to access facts and figures about undergraduate courses that will be drawn from a range of sources, including the NSS, DLHE and institutions. Some of these facts and figures will centre around these topics: student satisfaction,  course information, salary figures for graduates, cost of accommodation, fees etc. With such a wide range of data being provided by such a wide range of institutions, there really is going to be a lot of data for developers to utilise to provide services.

A very quick summary of what data is used by the KIS and where it is taken from, can be downloaded from the HEFCE site, along with a mock-up of how the KIS data may be presented (in the form of a widget) on institution’s websites. For those of you who want to read about the KIS in detail, are a glutton for punishment or need to read it, there’s a handy 108 page document which can also be downloaded. As part of the process of getting to grips with exactly what data will be available from the KIS, I’ve created a handy summary, which details the data available in the KIS, but summarises it down from 108 pages to a spreadsheet that is just a couple of pages long, which is available as a Google doc here. Some of the Google doc relates specifically to the University of Lincoln, but the main summary of the KIS data should be useful to anybody in a similar situation to myself. Obviously the summary is not intended to be a complete view of the KIS , so please don’t regard the summary I have created as ‘The Definitive Guide to KIS’, but rather a snapshot of just what might be available.

In terms of when this data *should* be submitted by institutions and when it *might* be available, I’ve taken the following table from HESA:

Date Action
June 2011 Provision of information about higher education: Outcomes of consultation and next steps, published by HEFCE, UUK and GuildHE (HEFCE 2011/18).
September 2011 Publication of technical guidance available on HESA web-site.
December 2011 Publication of updated technical guidance available on HESA web-site.
22 February/1 March 2012 HESA training seminars see HESA training.
February/March 2012 Submission system opens and validation kits issued for KISs to be published in September 2012. Institutions will have until August 2012 to finalise their data. The system will remain open throughout this period to allow institutions to manage their workloads and undertake quality assurance work.
March 2012 Publication of final update to technical guidance available HESA web-site.
July 2012 NSS 2012 and DLHE 2012 (C10018) data added by HEFCE to KIS submissions.
August 2012 Final deadline for submission of KIS data and sign off by head of institution. Institutions will be able to preview their full KIS data at this point.
September 2012 Institutions preview new official web-site with KIS and associated widgets.
New official web-site goes live; Unistats web-site closes.
KIS widgets to be embedded and visible on all institutional web-sites.
UCAS to include KIS data into course search web-site.
October 2012 KIS system re-opens for updates to September 2012 KIS, where necessary, for example to confirm fee information. Updates will be routinely published via the KIS widgets and official web-site.


Well, I hope that this summary of KIS is helpful! I’ll be posting something about XCRI-CAP soon.