Creating a pragmatic Data Strategy for Higher Education Providers

Led by Alex Leigh, recognised expert in Higher Education data strategy and governance.

The courses are currently being hosted by HESPA ( We have delivered the course to over 35 universities in 2021 and 2022. New courses are being developed in partnership with HESPA for 2023.

Designed for Directors of Planning and Data Leaders responsible for providing high quality information supporting efficient operations, effective decision making, strategic reporting, data led projects and external returns.

This course is for universities who have an aspiration to become ‘data enabled’. This means
maximising the value of their data asset against a headwind of reduced budgets, conflicting priorities, increasing information requirements and untrusted data lost in silo.

Why should I register for this course?

Data strategies often fail to launch. That’s because they fail to consider how to operationalise the vision set out in that strategy. This course will deliver both a rich and engaging data strategy and a detailed implementation plan spanning the next two years.

It will demonstrate how to ‘land’ and ‘expand’ that plan into a complex university operation, and how to build sustainability in from the first day.

You and your institution will benefit from this course, if:

  1. You are struggling to find an approach to effectively deal with increasing external scrutiny and regulation, without sacrificing the ability to impact assess/scenario plan for rapid policy change
  2. Your analysts spend longer cleaning poor quality data than creating meaningful insight and intelligence with that data
  3. You continually experience a lack of agreed data definitions enabling a culture where it is common to tell very different stories with the same dataset
  4. Your investment in BI/Analytics is not showing value due to a lack of trust in the data
  5. You are frustrated about not being able to link datasets to create business insight because of the siloed data culture across the university
  6. You are concerned that extensive use of poor quality data is putting the university at risk – both internally and externally
  7. You are concerned at the lack of focus that data must be properly managed by all staff to avoid proliferation of data silos and increased re-keying
  8. You sometimes manage to introduce a new process in data management to address a long-standing data issue, only to find that the process falls by the wayside if not constantly monitored
  9. You have a vision for data at the university that is being held back by a ‘fix fast, fail often’ approach to the management of data
  10. You are frustrated by the “planning blight” of an institutional desire to do a “big fix” including new systems etc, but no idea when the time and resources to do that will actually be available.

“…Alex’s attention to detail, ability to explain complex concepts simply, and his sheer experience and depth of knowledge of data and governance were invaluable in helping us make progress and plan our [Data Strategy] implementation.

Alex understands how HE works, how to overcome roadblocks, and avoid the pitfalls. His experience makes him a respected voice of authority.”

– Martin Howells. Director of Data and Insight (Interim) UCL.

If you’d like to know more

How does the course deliver its outcomes?

The workshops move you from business case to implementation via a data strategy, a bespoke HE data governance operating model, an engagement plan and a detailed 24 month roadmap. This focuses on the why, the what and the how.

“Alex helped move our data management strategy from idea to reality, with people and systems dedicated to it. Alex’ practical approach cuts through the jargon and mystery to help people see what they can do to make their data environment better, and why it matters.”

– Olivia Kew-Fickus, Director of Strategy, University of Birmingham (in 2018)

Register for the next course

The next 2021 course dates will be in April 2021. They will be delivered on behalf of 

Cost and time commitments

The course, materials, templates intra and post workshop support is priced at £2,500 exclusive of VAT. HESPA members will receive a discount. Please get in touch via the context form, or directly with your contacts at HESPA.

You will receive 18 hours of content delivered over three workshops. These workshops are spaced across 3 weeks. A final 2 hour one to one session completes the course in the fourth week.

Workshops are augmented with short assignments. With these included, the full-time commitment will be between 24-28 hours.

Please get in touch for further detail or to begin the registration process

Or if you can register with a credit card on our secure on-line booking system: eventbrite booking platform 

“Alex helped us during the Covid-19 lockdown period to develop a data strategy and implementation plan. He managed the remote workshops brilliantly and despite the constraints of not being in the same room together, a team from across the organisation, successfully co-developed a bespoke strategy and plan which will be a cornerstone for our future development. Alex’s deep knowledge and expertise in data strategy and management and his excellent communication skills made the process both interesting and hugely productive.”

– Gilane Tawadros, Chief Executive Officer at DACS

About the trainer:

Alex has worked with over fifty universities and most of the sector agencies. He has created and delivered sustainable data strategies, data governance frameworks and targeted mentoring for eight universities over the last two years. Some of Alex’s most recent customers include:

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“Alex is one of the most professional and positive people that I have ever worked with. He is a good intuitive leader who inspires confidence in his team and colleagues.”

– Liz Bell, UCAS