Data Strategy

Why do we need a Data strategy?

Many staff have reported feeling frustrated when they need data or receive data due to:

  • Difficulties accessing data
  • Data not being correct in reports
  • Gaps in the data available

The Data Strategy aims to tackle existing problems and provide a clear framework for preventing and addressing issues in the future. This will be done by establishing Data Governance and supporting everybody who works with data to engage with it as appropriate.  

Better data should help make lots of tasks easier – team and department planning, reporting to committees, business continuity planning, Athena SWAN submissions, REF submissions, regulatory returns, completing projects.

We all need data that works for us and it's important that we take a coherent, organisation-wide approach to tackling the challenges.  

What is Data Governance?

Data Governance means taking a structured approach to managing data. It includes:

Agreed roles and responsibilities

  • Roles will be designed to make it clear who is accountable and responsible for data throughout the organisation.
  • The list of roles and responsibilities will be published and available to all staff so that staff know who to ask if they have a question about data in a particular area.

Processes and tools

  • Data issues log – a place to report data issues and a process to help resolve them.
  • Business glossary – agreed definitions of what key data items include and mean.

Training and engagement

  • Working together and recognising that all our data is interconnected – what one person records today will be part of someone else’s report later.
  • Training for staff in different roles so everyone understands their role in data and how it connects with others. 


  • Better quality data is not just about IT systems. It’s about how data is valued and managed day to day. Here are some of the principles we are working towards:
Data is... Principle is established when...

...a valued university asset

Data is given the same consideration as buildings, people and money and is prioritised and resourced appropriately.


It is clear who is accountable for what, to whom. for purpose

There is a common language to underpin productive discussions about data.

...standardised, comparable and linkable

There are consistent methods of recording individual data items across purposes and across sytems.

...secured and subject to risk management

Staff feel confident that data is secured and controls are in place.

...made accessible and available

Accessing data where legitimate to do so is straightforward; data sharing is expected subject to controls.


What do I need to do?

Improving the quality of our data is a task for all staff, no matter where they are in the organisation. Here are some ideas for how you can make a difference:

  • Issues – if something isn’t right, make it known. It is likely that others are experiencing similar issues. To report data issues, please complete this data issues reporting form.  Some issues might be easily solved, some might be really complex. But if the University has visibility of what the issues are, we will be in a better position to focus efforts to resolve them.
  • Inter-connectedness – whenever you handle data, consider the person who might need it next or in a year’s time, for example for Athena SWAN or the REF. What will they need and how can you avoid making their job harder?
  • “Right first time” – if there isn’t time to do it right first time, there won’t be time to fix it later. Wherever possible, data entered into enterprise systems should be as complete and accurate as possible at point of entry.

Who is involved?

A Steering Group, with membership from Divisions, PACS and IT Services, is overseeing the development of the Data Strategy initiative. Stephen Purbrick (Interim Head of Planning) is the programme sponsor.

How can I find out more?

If you have a general question about the Data Strategy, please email

If you would like to be added to a mail list for future updates about the strategy, please email with “Data Strategy mail list” in the subject line. We plan to send termly updates to this list.

Contact us

If you have a general question about the Data Strategy, please email