There is an increasing demand for course data in the UK education system. This is driven in part by the Government transparency agenda which promotes the release of public data, and internally by a need to inform business planning. A more timely concern is that changes in HE course funding and fee structures have altered the relationship between institutions and students precipitating a demand for more,easier to find, accurate comparative data to enable informed choice.

Course Data: making the most of course information

There is an increasing demand for course data in the UK education system. This is driven in part by the Government transparency agenda which promotes the release of public data and internally by a need to inform business planning. The recent Government Whitepaper Students at the Heart of the system identifies a demand for more, easier to find, accurate comparative course data to enable informed choice.

"Information about online programmes is lacking and often difficult to find, both for distance courses and for the online learning elements in blended programmes. This has a significant impact on student choice, domestically and internationally. Only with better information can prospective students find what they want, judge value for money and make more accurate decisions about where and how to study. Better information will give institutions competitive edge" Report to HEFCE by the Online Learning Task Force January 2011.

The JISC call: "Course data: making the most of course information" was open to all institutions eligible for HEFCE CAPTIAL funding, HEIs and FECs with over 400 HE FTEs.

The call was a 2 Stage process:

Stage 1: Review and Plan of course data Sept-Dec 11

Stage 2: Implementation Jan 12- Mar 13

JISC held an online community briefing to provide information about the background to the call, its objectives and the funding process on 19th July at 15:00-16:30. The link to a recording of this meeting and full details of the call at available in the funding section. Answers to questions related to the call can be found on the page: Bidding for grant 11/7

JISC held an online Project start up meeting on Friday 16th September 14:00-16:00. A recording of the meeting and the presentation are now available.

Further information can also be found on the

XCRI Knowledge Base
a library of articles and resources about eXchanging Course Related Information

JISC have been working on areas that can support institutional review and planning to meet these challenges.  

eXchanging Course Related Information 

XCRI-CAP (eXchanging Course Related Information - Course Advertising Profile) is a standard that will help institutions prepare for the increasing demand for live course data by providing a common format for automatic course data generation. XCRI-CAP 1.2 is a FprEN 15982 (Metadata for Learning Opportunities) conformant information model and Schema for marking up course descriptions for advertising purposes. It has been developed to enable learning providers to supply course advertising data electronically in a standard format that facilitates efficient collection by aggregator and broker agencies and systematic comparison of learning opportunities, and promotion of new integrated information, advice and guidance services. 


The HEAR is a means for recording student achievement in higher education (HE) and is intended to provide more detailed information about a student’s learning and achievement than the traditional degree classification system. It will be issued to students on graduation and will include and extend the existing record of academic achievement - the academic transcript - and the European Diploma Supplement. HEAR development is being led by the Burgess Implementation Steering Group (BISG), supported by the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE), the Centre for Recording Achievement (CRA), Higher Education Academy (HEA), Universities UK (UUK), Guild HE and JISC. A pilot group of 18 institutions, using data from students who graduated in 2008 in four subject areas, have trialled the report, and a second trial took place in 2009-10. The HEAR will conform to FprEN 15981 European Learner Mobility - Achievement information (EuroLMAI). A EuroLMAI conformant XML data specification for the output of HEAR data has been created, which uses XCRI-CAP as the course description component promoting interoperability. For more information see


The Key Information Set (KIS) is the result of a HEFCE consultation on public information about HE. Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts, said: 'Improving information for prospective students is a priority for the Government, and is a key part of our plans for higher education. We want empowered students to make their study choices based on better, more transparent information.' The consultation found that institutions should standardise the way they publish key pieces of information about each course they offer. Their research showed that the KIS should include indicators of student satisfaction, information about the different teaching, learning and assessment methods used on the course, fees and accommodation costs. The KIS is an aggregation of disparate information from a range of sources, and is more than just course-level information - it also contains institutional-level data (such as accommodation costs), and historic subject-level data (such as NSS scores). In its basic form XCRI-CAP does NOT cover these elements, but does provide a structure for accurately describing the courses identified in the KIS. XCRI-CAP can be extended to include other data including KIS elements, and JISC work is beginning to focus on this.

For more information about the KIS go to HEFCE
And for technical guidance on how to produce institutional KIS information go to HESA website 

Business Intelligence

In 2010 JISC and JISC Infonet began national level research to determine what information senior managers need to make sound strategic decisions. The results are embodied in the very practical and much acclaimed Business Intelligence InfoKit. In March 2011 JISC moved to further our understanding of the aspects discovered in the BI Infokit and initiated 11 sector-wide projects which aim to 'help senior managers and decision makers make better use of both internal and external data in support of institutional management and decision making' through application of the BI InfoKit.

Enterprise Architecture

EA is a strategic technique to enable large and complex organisations like Universities to implement change through a mapping of how their business processes work in tandem with their ICT systems. This clarity of purpose allows improvements and amendments in light of pressures to adapt to be made to either with confidence. JISC CETIS have created a free open source Enterprise Architecture modelling tool "Archi" designed for the HE sector. Archi allows the creation of EA models, representing a significant cash saving to the sector and bringing the opportunity to learn from other EA active HEIs

Data structures

JISC have funded work around the data architecture used in Institutional websites, which have a profound impact on the visibility of information, including course information. A data model has been proposed which would allow more effective discovery.

93 institutions received funding for stage 1 of the programme


Funding Programme
e-Learning programme
Strategic Themes