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A North East tech firm has launched an innovative new product which could boost funding and revolutionise how higher education faculties provide required information on graduates to the government.

Cloud-based GradTrack has been created and developed by Newcastle firm ION to assist universities and colleges in providing the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) with accurate data on their graduates.

With higher education establishments under increasing pressure to transform processes to be able to maintain, track and publish graduate contact information, they also must conform to the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into effect next May.

Poor results such as an above-average rate of unemployment can push a university or college down the ranks in national newspaper league tables and at course level on Unistats website, which may influence future undergraduates’ decision about where to apply and could affect that institution’s income.

ION saw a gap in the market to create a solution to centralise each university and college’s databases using the information required as well as their requirements for reporting, in real-time. Being cloud-based, the information can be accessed anytime from any device.

Technical director of ION and creator of GradTrack, John Huggins explained: “We created GradTrack so it can take the pressure off and make it a lot easier for universities and colleges to stick to the new data protection laws as well as providing more accuracy for league tables and the government whilst being less time consuming for staff.”

The Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), which currently surveys the annual review of alumni’s employment or educational status six months after their graduation, is due to change to 15 months after the survey is centralised and will be governed by HESA. HESA requires 80 per cent of UK residents who studied full-time to respond before providing this information to the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

John continued: “The next league tables will determine where each institution is ranked and therefore could affect their income and prospects so it has to be right.

“A tool such as GradTrack can enable establishments to work faster in delivering greater visibility and insights into graduate employment, increased funding opportunities and can help stop the musical chair element of league tables and provide precise information for alumni for revenue and placements.

“It has been designed to collate accurate and real-time information, adhere to new legislations, help increase credibility and admissions, decrease administration time gathering data, and could save these establishments tens of thousands of pounds on DHLE collectors.”

By the 2019/20 academic year, higher education establishments will have to provide four reports a year to HESA to ensure accuracy.

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