Data collection processes for evaluation and monitoring

Why do we collect data from students taking part in outreach activities?

The University of Sheffield has a long track record of attracting and retaining students from underrepresented groups in Higher Education, and has a long-standing commitment to widening participation and fair access. The University is also required by the Office for Students (OfS) to gather and report on evidence showing how effective our outreach programmes and activities are.

With the University being required to show the impact of our activities, we have done the following to assist us in properly undertaking evaluation:

If you would like some help explaining HEAT and data collection to students, HEAT have created the video opposite which may be helpful.

What data do we collect?

At the start of an event, students are given individual registration forms, these ask them to provide five pieces of personal information and have a copy of our data protection statement printed alongside the questions. Students can refuse to give this information to us on the day, or can get in touch with the University to request a copy of their data by contacting

Collecting data from students is a crucial part of the evaluation process to assess the value and effectiveness of the activities we offer. As a minimum, we ask that students provide the following information:

  • Full name
  • Date of Birth
  • Gender
  • Postcode
  • School/college attended

We ask for these pieces of information as they are the minimum details required to track individual and overall outreach activity using HEAT - HEAT allows us to track individual journeys, with the aim being to measure the effectiveness of outreach activities. Evaluation in this way also helps the University to continuously improve what we offer widening participation students.

For students aged 16 and over: data being processed (that is, added to the HEAT database) will only be done so providing the student has completed the registration form and read the data protection statement.

For students aged under 16: minimal personal data will be collected on the day, providing the student wishes to fill in the form and read the data protection statement. Data will only be processed in HEAT following consent from parent/guardian/carer of the young person. This is most likely done via a letter home from school, or from programme leads at the University.

Our Data Protection statement

The data collected here will be processed by the University of Sheffield in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998, and the General Data Protection Regulation, and held for as long as we need this information. For research, monitoring and evaluation purposes only, your data may also be shared with appropriate third party organisations such as the Office for Students, Higher Education Statistics Agency and our partners including Higher Education Access Tracker Service subscribers. We will not release data to anyone who is unauthorised. Under the Data Protection Act 1998 and the General Data Protection Regulation (from May 2018) you have the right to a copy of the data held about you by us.

If you would like a copy of the data you have supplied to us, contact

Developments with NCOP (National Collaborative Outreach Programme)

As we embark upon this new Government funded collaborative outreach programme (NCOP), in partnership with the lead institution Sheffield Hallam University and our partners HEPP (Higher Education Progression Partnership) the need for collecting data to report on progress against objectives is becoming more important.

HeppSY, the central NCOP team for South Yorkshire, will be collecting student data from engaged schools and colleges at the beginning of the academic year 2017. This data will be shared between the two universities where necessary - data sharing agreements have been put in place to ensure the right procedures are put in place for fair use of data.

HeppSY will ask for the same data as above to be shared as a minimum, but will also ask schools and colleges for the following where available:

  • 1st generation of HE
  • Pupil premium/free school meals
  • Unique Learner ID
  • Disability
  • Ethnicity
  • Looked after child/ Care leaver status 
  • Young Carer status