HEMIS and the classification of educational subject matter
The Department of Education is responsible for a higher education management information system (HEMIS) which plays a central role in the collection and production of data required for quality assurance, national and institutional higher education planning, and the allocation of government funds to higher education institutions. To fulfil its responsibilities, HEMIS requires higher education institutions to submit annual data returns, which include details of:
- their approved qualifications and fields of study;
- the courses offered within their academic programmes;
- the courses for which each student is registered;
- the fields in which each academic/research staff member is active.
This list shows that the notions of “fields of study” and “courses” play central roles in the collection of these data from higher education institutions. As institutions often use unique titles for their offerings, the data collected by HEMIS cannot be based on institutional descriptions of their fields of study and courses. The Department of Education has required higher education institutions to classify the subject matter embedded in their fields of study and courses in standard ways, before submitting their HEMIS annual data returns.