Main Article Content
Large administrative datasets are now being used for secondary purposes across a wide range of public sector organisations, including in health and higher education. However, governance, regulation and policy surrounding the use of these datasets are at different stages of development in these sectors. Our aim was to explore similarities and differences in the use of administrative data between the health and higher education sectors to inform policy development.
Objectives and Approach
We investigated views on the use of administrative data in both the health and higher education sectors. We conducted 18 qualitative in-depth interviews with key stakeholders, to provide insight into the ethical, social and legal issues associated with the use of big data in these settings. The interviews were transcribed and thematically coded.
Participants indicated the rapid pace of technological change and large volume of potentially sensitive data collected raises governance, infrastructure and ethical issues in both settings. Common challenges include communication, staff capabilities, delays in access, multiple policies and governance committees, and technical and operational issues. In the health sector, there was clear understanding of the issues and governance structures to address these issues, whereas this understanding was more variable in the higher education sector. Trust in government (to use responsibly and store securely) was raised in the health sector but not in universities.
Conclusion / Implications
Understanding and use of administrative data are at quite different levels of development in the higher education and health sectors. Higher education needs policy and ethical guidance and higher level governance and greater consultation across the sector. Both sectors would benefit from a national approach to data governance.
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